ILOILO CITY – The more than 200-year-old church in Miag-ao, Iloilo, designated as a United Nations Educational and Scientific and Cultural Organization World Heritage site, has been placed under lockdown after its parish priest contracted COVID-19.
“The Santo Tomas de Villanueva Church is currently on lockdown. All public masses are suspended until further notice,” said the Archdiocese of Jaro in a public advisory.
The lockdown started Sunday when the Rural Health Unit (RHU) of Miag-ao started disinfection after the positive COVID-19 test result for the parish priest was released.
Fr. Angelo Colada, the archdiocese’s social communications director, confirmed that the priest was admitted in a private hospital in Iloilo City after exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms. “He is OK. He is stable,” Colada said.
The assistant parish priest and more than a dozen church workers also underwent testing as they were close contacts of the priest.
Colada said the Catholic faithful can still attend masses in three other parishes in Barangays Cubay, Igbugo, and San Jose.
He added that priests from nearby towns may be temporarily assigned to augment once the church reopens to the public.
The Miag-ao Church not only draws the faithful but also visitors. It is the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Visayas.