The Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, more popularly known as Quiapo Church, is currently on lockdown after a priest who visited the prominent shrine tested positive for the coronavirus, Father Douglas Badong, the shrine’s vicar, announced last night.
Badong said that the unnamed visiting priest stayed at Quiapo Church between March 16 to June 13, around the same time when Manila was under the enhanced community quarantine. The priest took a rapid test on June 10, which yielded a negative result and allowed him to travel to Mindanao, where he was officially assigned. However, a swab and a rapid test which the clergyman took after arriving in Mindanao both tested positive last week.
It’s unclear how the priest was infected with the coronavirus.
Father Badong ordered the immediate shutdown of the church on June 19, the day that he learned that the visiting priest had COVID-19. He, along with some 80 priests and staff of the church, took rapid tests on June 25, all of which turned negative. However, perhaps due to the unreliability of rapid tests, the vicar and the rest of the staff at the basilica are currently undergoing a two-week quarantine.
Quiapo Church is being disinfected daily and will remain on lockdown until July 4. Its masses will be live-streamed on its Facebook page.
Before the pandemic, the historic church has attracted churchgoers not just in Manila, but from different parts of the country. The church houses the famous Black Nazarene, a dark statue of Jesus Christ, which Catholic devotees believe has the power to grant miracles.
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