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Pope Francis’ closeness to Panama amid Covid-19 crisis
Pope Francis in Panama during his Apostolic journey in 201929 March 2021. The Pope sends a message to the Panamanian people as they honor the many health personnel and front-liners who died in the line of duty while taking care of those affected by the ongoing health emergency.

By Vatican News staff writer

Pope Francis has expressed his closeness to the people of Panama, especially to health workers who died during their service to those affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a message signed by the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Holy Father implored the Lord to sustain all institutions that work to bring comfort to those affected by the health emergency, and entrusted all those who have died to “the infinite mercy of God and to the maternal intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary.”

The Pope’s message was read by Archbishop José Ulloa of Panama during the occasion held on 24 March in recognition of the service of the “heroes of health.”

Service and dedication of health workers

Archbishop Ulloa highlighted the “great humanity and great sense of patriotism” with which the health personnel have carried out their mission of saving lives in the country.

Since the first confirmed case of Covid-19 was announced in the country last year, 111 health workers have died.

Expressing gratitude for their selflessness, the Archbishop emphasized that there is a need to acknowledge the dedication, out of love for the country, of the health personnel and the anonymous heroes in these times of the pandemic. He notes that the Church is doing something in that regard, but there are still many more that need to be publicly recognized.

Panamanian health minister, Francisco Sucre, explained that on the occasion, the ministry of health acknowledges all the health personnel who died in the battle against Covid-19. He further noted that “it is worthy to pay homage to all the comrades who have offered their lives with honor, looking for the way to give health to the Panamanian people."

During the 24 March ceremony, a plaque in memory of the deceased was unveiled by the authorities of the Ministry of Health in the presence of representatives of faith communities and other officials.

Guayacán plants were also presented to the 15 regional health directors of the country, to commemorate the more than six thousand people who lost their lives due to Covid-19.

Covid-19 in Panama

As the country continues to battle with the pandemic, Archbishop Ulloa encouraged the faithful “not to be afraid to recognize that we need God, and to turn to Him full of hope,” especially in the face of the reality of death that makes us realize that we are not self-sufficient and that we need the Lord.

So far, Panama has had over 353,000 confirmed Covid-19 cases since the outbreak of the pandemic, and presently has about 4,900 active cases. The country received its first doses of the Covid-19 vaccine in January and has already begun its vaccination campaign.