Latter-day Saint missionaries in China to be transferred amid coronavirus outbreak

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People wearing masks line up for departure at Hong Kong airport in Hong Kong, Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020. Hong Kong on Tuesday reported its first death from a new virus, a man who had traveled from the mainland city of Wuhan that has been the epicenter of the outbreak. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)

HONG KONG (ABC4 News) – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is transferring 113 missionaries out of the China Hong Kong Mission over the next few days due to the coronavirus outbreak in the country.

Church officials say the missionaries will be temporarily reassigned to other missions or if they were nearing their scheduled release date, they will return home and be “honorably released.”

Twelve additional missionaries who are from Hong Kong will return to their homes and be released from service until the situation has stabilized.

Before the missionaries are reassigned, most missionaries will return home and follow guidelines from the World Health Organization to self-isolate for 14 days.

“Where required, they will undergo a government-mandated quarantine at a government facility based on the guidelines established by their home countries,” said church officials in a statement Tuesday.

For several days before leaving Hong Kong, the church says all missionaries were instructed to follow preventative health practices to avoid illness including remaining in their apartments as much as possible, not engaging in teaching, wearing masks, and frequently washing their hands.

Church officials call the likelihood of any of these missionaries having contracted the coronavirus “very low,” and each missionary is required to show no symptoms before leaving Hong Kong.

Officials in Hong Kong reported the first death from the virus Tuesday fanning fear that the virus is spreading locally. Officials identified Wuhan, China as the epicenter of the outbreak.

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