Mass-goers warned against receiving communion on tongue due to health risks
Just don't do it...
People attending mass have been warned against receiving communion directly onto their tongue in order to prevent the spread of influenza, a new report has recommended.
The Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HSPC) has issued a warning to mass goers that receiving communion directly onto your tongue greatly increases the chances of catching the flu from another person, and said the practice should be "discouraged".
They said that if this does occur, priests and Eucharistic Ministers should clean their hands with alcohol-based hand gel.
While the number of cases of influenza have decreased dramatically in recent weeks, 55 people, the majority of them elderly, have died of the flu this season in Ireland.
The HSPC also said that the sign of peace has a small risk of spreading the virus, but the risk is low if people who are unwell don't go to mass while they're ill.
They advise that the sign of peace can still be continued at mass, but on each occasion that the priest gives the congregation an option to offer a sign of peace which does not involve hand contact, such as a smile, nod or bow etc.
It's thought that the peak of the flu season has passed but pressure is likely to remain on strained emergency services for several weeks.