KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews / 15 March) — Heeding the call of the national government to avoid crowd convergence, the Diocese of Marbel has exempted the faithful from attending holy masses and other holy obligations starting Sunday until further notice as a precautionary measure against the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Bishop Cerilo Casicas cited the COVID-19 Code Red Sub-level 2 alert issued by the Department of Health in issuing the directive to the parishioners.
“The faithful are encouraged to remain at home and to hear masses and other spiritual activities through radio, television and internet,” the prelate said.
Code Red Sub-level 2, which was raised on Thursday following the confirmed local transmission of Covid-19 cases in the country, prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to place the entire Metro Manila under “community quarantine.”
Eight persons have died due to COVID-19 infections in the country while the confirmed cases rose to 140 as of Sunday noon, according to the Department of Health.
Casicas urged priests to continue to celebrate the Holy Eucharist and Holy Week liturgical celebrations even in the absence of a congregation.
Should the faithful choose to go to churches or chapel, the bishop reminded them to observe the recommended social distancing and hygiene protocols.
Casicas appealed to parishioners who have fever, cough or difficulty of breathing and those with travel history to areas with confirmed COVID-19 cases to go on home quarantine.
During Sunday morning’s masses at the Christ the King Cathedral here, the crowd was unusually thin as many opted to stay home.
According to Casicas, “it is now the time to respond together as a Church with greater seriousness to the potential havoc that a more widespread transmission of this virus can cause on our people.”
He believes thatc collectively, the public can help the government control the further spread of the highly contagious disease.
“We are morally obliged to cooperate and support all the precautionary measures that our health officials and government leaders offer us to keep our people safe and healthy,” he stressed.
Amidst the COVID-19 threat, Casicas encouraged the faithful to be open to the vulnerable, especially the poor, and share their resources with them.
The Diocese of Marbel covers the entire provinces of South Cotabato and Sarangani and parts of Sultan Kudarat province, and the cities of General Santos and Koronadal. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews