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Covid locks down two convents in the Philippines

At least one nun dies after more than 130 sisters and staff are struck down by virus in Manila

Joseph Peter Calleja, Manila

Joseph Peter Calleja, Manila

Published: September 17, 2021 06:48 AM GMT

Updated: September 17, 2021 10:20 AM GMT

Covid locks down two convents in the Philippines

Roman Catholic nuns queue up to view the urn of the late Philippine president Benigno Aquino inside a church at a university compound in Manila on June 25, 2021. Two convents in Manila have gone into lockdown after more than 130 nuns and staff tested positive for Covid-19. (Photo: AFP / TED ALJIBE)

Two convents in Manila have gone into lockdown after more than 130 nuns and staff tested positive for Covid-19, their respective congregations said.

The Religious of the Virgin Mary Sisters [RVM sisters], the biggest female religious order in the Philippines, revealed that 62 of its sisters, as well as staff, had tested positive for the virus.

“Right now, we have 114 cases within our religious house in Quezon City. Sixty-two are nuns, the rest are their caregivers and other staff,” the RVM sisters announced on Sept. 15.

The congregation, founded by Venerable Ignacia del Espiritu Santo in 1684, runs 58 schools in the Philippines including a university.

The sisters said the outbreak may have been caused by an asymptomatic visitor to one of their elderly sisters.

“We seldom leave the convent. But from time to time we allow fully vaccinated visitors to visit especially if they are family members of our elderly sisters,” the congregation added.

Meanwhile, another congregation in Manila, the Holy Spirit Sisters, also announced an outbreak.

The congregation reported 22 cases including 13 nuns and 9 staff members.

One of the nuns has since reportedly died in a nearby hospital in Manila’s Quezon City.

An asymptomatic visitor to one of the nuns is also believed to have been the source of the outbreak.

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Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte has urged the Department of Health to monitor the situation and take victims to a hospital if necessary.

“With a tight lockdown, the virus is contained within the sisters’ convent. Maybe there is a lesson that we need to learn here, that is, not to take visitors lightly. Always assume everyone is [Covid-19] positive,” Belmonte told reporters on Sept. 16.

As of Sept. 16, the Philippines had recorded 2.28 million Covid-19 cases with 35,742 deaths, according to government figures.

 

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