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Catholic Church Bans Holy Water Over Coronavirus Fears

Holy water will be removed from Catholic churches in Perth and drinking from the chalice will be banned under temporary precautions aimed at stopping the spread of the coronavirus.

The communion wafer will also be administered in the hand, rather than on the tongue, and the sign of peace handshakes will be omitted.

"All priests and extraordinary ministers of holy communion are to wash their hands in soap and water, or are to use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser both immediately before and immediately after the distribution of holy communion," Bishop Donald Sproxton said in a statement.

"Parishioners who feel unwell should not attend mass and are excused from their normal obligation."

The directives, which are in response to the latest public health advice from the state and federal governments, will remain in place until Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe issues a revision.

St Mary's Cathedral's Rev Dr Sean Fernandez said the changes were "looking out for the wellbeing of the community." 

"So we've stopped giving out communion on the chalice, we've stopped giving the sign of peace, we've emptied the holy water fonts," he told 10 News Perth.

The changes come as WA's third coronavirus case was confirmed.

The woman, aged in her 30s, had been to Iceland and London, and then returned to Perth via Dubai.

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State Health Minister Roger Cook said exactly where she had been and who she had close contact with was being ascertained.

WA Chief Health Officer Andrew Robertson said the woman self-isolated at home as soon as she became unwell the day after she landed.

St Mary's Cathedral in Perth. Image: Facebook / Catholic Archdiocese of Perth

The risk to those who travelled on the same plane as the woman was low as she was asymptomatic at the time, Dr Robertson said.

She was in a stable condition, he added.

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WA's two other cases were also contracted outside the state.

James Kwan, 78, died in a Perth hospital on Sunday after contracting the virus on the Diamond Princess cruise ship off Japan.

It was the first coronavirus death in Australia. His wife later also tested positive to COVID-19.