Basilica adopts precautionary measures; tells devotees to disinfect hands before venerating
CEBU CITY, Philippines – Devotees venerating the image of Señor Sto. Niño that is housed at the Basilica will have to clean their hands first before touching the glass enclosure that protects the relic.
This is one of the measures that the Augustinian fathers of the Basilica have put in place to stop the transmission of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), said a recent church advisory.
“With the abrupt increase of the number of cases reported by the Department of Health since yesterday, the Basilica has intensified its efforts to help the government in minimizing the spread,” the Basilica’s statement said.
Aside from advising faithful to disinfect their hands, the Basilica also discouraged the kissing of the glass enclosure where the religious image is placed.
“The devotees are advised to touch the glass or relic by hands and refrain from kissing and upon entry, a disinfectant is provided, the devotee is encouraged to disinfect their hands before venerating the image,” the Basilica’s advisory reads.
They also said that a security guard is assigned to disinfect the glass enclosure every now and then to ensure safe and hygienic veneration.
“Disinfectants are also provided in the entrance and exit areas where the visitors could use,” the advisory added.
Basilica workers are also directed to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) such as face masks and disinfect the premise after they close the Basilica’s gate at night.
“With these efforts, the Basilica community is hoping for the public’s cooperation for everyone’s safety,” the statement said.
Dozens of individuals, including tourists and devotees, visit the Basilica in Cebu City where the image of the Señor. Sto. Niño is enshrined.
The centuries-old Basilica is a heritage site in Cebu and a frequent stop for tourism activities and tours, thus the need to implement precautionary measures against the COVID-19.
As of March 11, 2020, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Philippines has already reached to a total of 33.
The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) earlier released a statement urging devotees not to attend Masses and church gatherings if they do not feel well.
CBCP also asked priests and lay ministers to conduct communion by the hand and to wear face masks to prevent the possible transmission of the virus.
The Department of Health (DOH) hoisted Code Red Alert Sublevel 1 after they confirmed a localized transmission of COVID-19.
DOH said they are looking into the possibility of upgrading the alert system to Sublevel 2 if the disease will spread to the communities.
Imposing Sublevel 2 alert will entail community or area lockdowns in which transportation operations might be interrupted./ dcb
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