Nuncio to NZ in self-isolation as COVID-19 precaution

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Archbishop Novatus Rugambwa, the apostolic nuncio to New Zealand, has self-isolated after a recent trip to Italy, in line with guidance from New Zealand authorities to help prevent the spread of coronavirus COVID-19.

Deputy head of mission and First Secretary at the Apostolic Nunciature in Wellington Msgr Edward Karaan said the nuncio is not ill, but he is following the guidance issued by the Government on March 2 that travellers from Italy isolate themselves for 14 days.

“He just came from Italy. He is doing the normal thing, following the rules of the New Zealand government. Two days ago, there was an update from the New Zealand Government regarding travellers from Italy. These are just precautionary measures,” Msgr Karaan told NZ Catholic.

In Italy, Archbishop Rugambwa visited his superiors at the Holy See and some of his friends, Msgr Karaan said.

Health Minister David Clark, on March 2, announced the extension of travel restrictions for Iran and China for another seven days.

He also said anyone who has been in northern Italy or South Korea in the last 14 days “will now be registered for self-isolation upon arrival in New Zealand”.

Archbishop Rugambwa arrived back in New Zealand on March 3.

Papal Nuncio Archbishop Novatus Rugambwa (left) at Auckland Bishop Patrick Dunn’s (right) 25th Jubilee Mass last year.

Being in self-isolation means Archbishop Rugambwa will not be able to attend the ordination of Auxiliary Bishop-elect Michael Gielen on Saturday, March 7.

As the nuncio’s deputy, Msgr Karaan said he will be reading the papal bull on the day of the ordination.

“I will also read the message of the nuncio after the reading of the papal bull,” he said.

Archbishop Rugambwa was appointed Apostolic Nuncio to New Zealand and Apostolic Delegate to the countries of the Pacific last year. He replaced the previous nuncio Archbishop Martin Krebs, who was appointed as nuncio to Uruguay.

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Rowena Orejana

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