The San Roque Cathedral in the Diocese of Kalookan in Caloocan City has been placed under “temporary lockdown” after a guest priest who died on Saturday morning was found to be positive of COVID-19.
“We regret to inform you that the [city government of Caloocan] has ordered the temporary lockdown of the San Roque Cathedral starting tomorrow, Sunday, July 25,” read a short announcement on Facebook by Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of Kalookan.
The prelate said only two Masses would be celebrated “sine populo (without a congregation)” on Sunday, which was the celebration of “World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly People.”
The Masses were broadcast online one at 9 a.m. and another at 5 p.m.
Bishop David said a guest priest, Father Manuel Jadraque Jr. of the Mission Society of the Philippines, died Saturday morning while on his way to the cathedral. He was 58.
“He took a tricycle from Monumento to the cathedral, and when he arrived at the cathedral, he was found unresponsive and very pale inside the tricycle,” said the prelate.
“He was clutching the 50-peso bill, which he was going to pay the tricycle driver,” he added. “He was rushed immediately to the [Caloocan City Medical Center] and was declared [dead on arrival],” said Bishop David.
The priest was supposed to return to Auckland, New Zealand, where he was serving, in May but was prevented by the travel ban due to the pandemic.
Bishop David said that due to previous instances of COVID-related heart attacks, “I insisted on having Father Manuel submitted to a post-mortem swab testing.”
“What makes Father Manuel’s case particularly concerning is the fact that he has already been fully vaccinated with Sinovac,” said the bishop.
“Sadly, the test result came out this evening and he was found to be positive of SARS-Cov-2,” Bishop David said in his Facebook post.
“We have no way of finding out if the heart attack had been triggered by COVID despite the fact that he had been fully vaccinated already,” he added. “We also do not know which strain of COVID it was.”
“We, therefore, asked the city government to have the [laboratory] specimen submitted for genome sequencing to find out which variant had infected Father Manuel,” said the bishop.