The Bishop of Chelmsford, the Right Reverend John Gladwin has advised churches in his diocese including Thurrock to ban holy water in a bid to halt the spread of swine flu.
The Bishop told reporters: “The water in stoups can easily become a source of infection and a means of rapidly spreading the virus,” he said.
In a directive to priests in Essex, he added: “It is not our intention at this stage to cause panic.”
He said priests should also advise members of their congregation who have flu-like symptoms to stay at home.
The Bishop also issued advice about taking holy communion warning if anyone had flu-like symptoms not to “drink wine from the chalice”.
He assured congregations that they could receive full holy communion by just taking the wafer of bread.
He discouraged pastoral visits and said if a visit was necessary priests should wear sterile gloves, an apron and a face mask.