June 6, 2023

Probe Covid-19 transmission among members of a church

The continuous surge in Covid-19 cases in Baguio City prompted me to write this letter.
May I share this information about a Christian congregation near a university belt, where 14 members were categorized as contacts of a positive Covid-19 case.
Unknown to the contact tracers, there are 14 close contacts but only three names were submitted to the contact tracers.
The church has a member who is a physician, who supplied all 14 contacts who were mostly teens and young adults with privately-acquired antigen kits.
All 14 tested positive with their antigen test, but only three submitted themselves for RT-PCR testing, of which results also turned positive.
The remaining 11 allegedly isolated themselves within the confines of the church or other places such as their homes. Since they did not submit themselves for RT-PCR testing, some might have infected members of their households and other church members.
Basically, not all of them isolated in full compliance to health protocols and may have infected other people in the community.
A few weeks after these three cases, the patients have recovered.
The contact tracing efforts yielded a number of church members with positive RT-PCR tests. Then again, not all.
The index case allegedly informed the contact tracers he is not residing with his parents, but actually, he was with them days before his test results came out.
His parents were not contact traced even with joint efforts with the barangay because the parents fled Baguio after they came to know that their son got infected.
This is just one scenario. After some weeks, other members manifested symptoms.
Instead of submitting themselves for RT-PCR, they purchased antigen kits from private individuals or the physician member allegedly prescribed medicines for those isolated in the church.
Those with positive antigen test results did not inform health authorities about the results, thus, were not subjected to RT-PCR test.
Those with positive antigen test results opted to isolate in their houses, which could have resulted to virus transmission among members of their household.
Some of the church members claimed that Covid-19 is not real but they subjected themselves to antigen testing.
My concern is that these church members are endangering the lives of people in their communities.
The situation calls for validation or investigation by the city’s contract tracing teams.
Apparently, the church, professional members, barangay officials or even contact tracers have all contributed to their share of negligence, but it is not too late to correct it.
I appeal to the concerned offices to subject members of this church to mass testing before it is allowed to resume its services and other activities.
Please check the church to determine if it is fit to conduct weekly or even daily services.
In fairness to the church, it has been compliant with the 30 percent capacity for its services even before its members have contracted the virus.
I wonder if the supposed surprise inspection by the city on churches is being discreetly informed reason why this church posted in its social media account of an upcoming surprise inspection.
I hope concerned offices investigate the issues I raised even if information has it that one of its pastors is one of the prayer leaders of the mayor.
I do not intend to discredit the concerned religious entity, its pastors, or members, but only to stem the spread of Covid-19 in church and household members. — NAME WITHHELD, Baguio City

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