DOH prohibits priests from ministering to MERS CoV virus patient

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SAN PEDRO CITY, Feb. 16, 2015 – Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Janette Garin says priests are prohibited from giving Sacrament for the Sick) to a patient afflicted by the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Corona Virus (MERS CoV) virus, but allayed fears of easy contamination as long as there was no direct exposure to the infected person.

an Jose, Nueva Ecija Bishop Roberto Mallari gives the Anointing of the Sick to several wheelchair-bound faithful. (Photo: CBCPNews)

Because priests’ ministering of the sick requires them to face and make direct contact with the patient, they are strictly prohibited from doing it for the meantime, to avoid contamination and possibly infecting parishioners, Garin told parents, teachers, students and Local Government Unit (LGU) officials at the Pacita Elementary School on Friday, Feb. 13.

Sacrament of the Sick

Garin made this warning because of allegations that a Catholic priest was reportedly requested to administer the Sacrament of the Sick to the nurse afflicted by the MERS CoV virus before she was transferred from a Pacita Hospital to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Alabang.

However, it was not confirmed whether the visit took place.

She said the MERS Cov is not an airborne disease, hence it cannot be passed to a healthy person unless he or she has direct contact with the patient through coughing sneezinr, or physical contact with the carrier’s saliva.

As preventive measures the parish council of Pacita 2-Guevarra parish where at least three of its nurse parishioners working at the Evangelista Medical and Specialty Hospital are still quarantined inside the establishment for days has made an urgent call for churchgoers to refrain from receiving Holy Communion on the tongue starting Saturday.

No ordinary masks

Garin said wearing ordinary, flimsy masks is useless because the MERS CoV virus is so microscopic in size that it can easily penetrate the masks if the person makes direct contact with the MERS CoV carrier. The best way to prevent the disease is to avoid direct contact, to wash hands properly before eating and to be conscious of personal hygiene.

She said there is no need for parents to prevent their children from attending classes because the virus is now contained at the RITM with no danger of easy contamination and the Evangelista hospital just across the school premises is under quarantine until Feb. 20 to ensure total disinfection of the area before resumption of operations.

Garin said the temporary closing of the hospital and accompanying precautionary measures does not necessarily mean the health facility and its staff are contaminated.

The DOH and World Health Organization (WHO) would just want ensure the safety of the public.

Bantay Bata event cancelled

Meanwhile, Ma. Rosario Campos, Barangay Chair of Pacita Complex, Brgy San Vicente has asked ABS-CBN to call off the slated Bantay Bata program on Saturday, Feb. 14, pending DOH categorical assurance that MERS CoV virus is no longer present in Pacita after it culminates disinfection of the hospital and declaring Evangelista a virus-free environment.

Barangay Official Boy Jayloni told CBCP News they have distributed hundreds of packs of loaf bread to various poor constituents, originally intended for the 900 children scheduled to be served during the Bantay Bata event to avoid spoilage. (Fr. Romy O. Ponte/CBCPNews)

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