The Bishop of Northern Ireland’s largest Catholic diocese temporarily suspends mass handshake as deadly infection continues to spread.

Amid the threat of Aussie Flu, Bishop Noel Treanor is taking the precautionary measure to lower the risk of the virulent strain.

Read More: Deadly "Aussie Flu" sweeps Ireland in violent outbreak

A statement from the office of The Bishop of the Diocese of Down and Connor confirmed the decision.

Bishop Treanor urged his parishioners to enforce good hygiene practices, use disinfecting hand gels and soaps, and stay at home should they feel signs of illness.

Ministers were also given instructions on how to minimize risk of the deadly H3N2 bug.

“Provision should be made for all ministers to use alcohol gel or wash their hands in warm soapy water before Mass and after the distribution of Holy Communion to minimize risk of infection,” the statement reads.

The Diocese previously suspended the sign of peace handshake during the Swine Flu epidemic of 2009.

Aussie flu: 'Red zone' map reveals deadly influenza virus has spread to every part of Ireland

— MSN Ireland (@msnireland) January 9, 2018

To date, the rampant Aussie Flu virus has affected 1,500 people across Ireland and the UK. Experts fear that this flu outbreak could be the most dangerous since 1968.

Ireland’s Health Service Executive (HSE) confirmed last month that less than ten lives had been claimed by Aussie Flu in recent weeks.

During the Australian winter, over 170,000 people were affected by the influenza, and some 300 cases of fatalities were reported.

Doctors and General Practitioners have urged those most at risk and their carers - the elderly, pregnant women, children - to be particularly vigilant. It is not too late to get the flu jab, they advised.

Symptoms to watch out for include but are not limited to a sore throat and cough, headache, fever, fatigue, vomiting, diarrhea, and shakes.

As flu levels rise please remember it's not too late to get the #fluvaccine. Contact your GP, Pharmacy or Occupational Health Dept to get the vaccine. #YourBestShot

— HSE Ireland (@HSELive) January 9, 2018

For more information on Aussie Flu, see NetDoctor or contact your Physician.

Bishop Noel Treanor, Bishop of Down and Connor, at Ordination to the Priesthood of Rev. Damian McCaughan, St Malachy’s Church, Coleraine in July 2011.Image via