8 elderly nuns in Manila succumb to COVID-19; outbreak hits seminary

Congregation of the Religious of the Virgin Mary Congregation of the Religious of the Virgin Mary motherhouse, Quezon City, Philippines/ RamonFVelasquez/Wikimedia (CC0)

The Congregation of the Religious of the Virgin Mary in Manila announced the death of eight elderly nuns who had been diagnosed with COVID-19.

The nuns were between 80 and 90 years old, and were among the 62 sisters earlier reported to have been infected with COVID-19 at a convent in Quezon City in the Philippine capital.

Sister Ma. Anicia Co, RVM, the congregation’s spokesperson, said that 52 convent staff and personnel were also positive for COVID-19.

“The personnel are still young so they are on the road to recovery,” said Sister Co in an interview over Church-run Radio Veritas 846.

“Some sisters are moving from symptomatic to asymptomatic. Eight of the sisters, aged 90s and 80s, afflicted with COVID-19 returned home to our Heavenly Father,” she said.

The nun also clarified reports that the reason for the COVID-19 “outbreak” inside the convent was due to the refusal of the nuns and the personnel to get vaccinated.

She said that some of the nuns and the personnel were already vaccinated in May. The eight nuns who died were not vaccinated because they were already sick, Sister Co said.

“It was not the decision of the congregation, nor the leaders nor the Sister Administrator of the St. Joseph Home, that they would not be vaccinated,” she said.“The Sister Administrator actually followed up later for their vaccination but it did not come soon.”

“Please pray for us, especially our Sisters in St. Joseph Home,” Sister Co appealed to the public.

“May our sisters come to full recovery. May God grant strength to our other sisters in the communities in the compound strength to continue serving the affected community,” she added.

Meanwhile, a COVID-19 outbreak also hit a seminary of the Society of the Divine Word in Manila this week. At least 25 of the 59 residents of the Christ the King Mission Seminary were reported to have contracted the disease, including nine priests and 16 employees.

Government health officials reported that one of the priests, one of the first two recorded infections in the seminary, had died.

But Father Pablito Tagura, rector of the seminary, clarified that the COVID cases were only recorded among retired priests and their caregivers in one of the seminary compound’s four facilities.

“All of them do not need hospital care and most of them are asymptomatic,” he told a local television station. The priest said all those reported infected are under quarantine.

Earlier, local authorities placed three religious facilities in the Philippine capital under lockdown - the Stella Maris Convent, the Religious of the Virgin Mary convent, and the Convent of the Holy Spirit.

The Philippines on Wednesday posted 15,592 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of cases to 2,417,419. Of the cumulative total, 162,580 - or 6.7% - are active cases, said the country’s health department.

The Philippines is fighting one of Asia's worst coronavirus outbreaks, as it struggles to contain the growth of new infections likely driven by the COVID-19 Delta variant. 

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The positivity rate in the country is 24.9%, based on the test results of 53,349 individuals screened for the disease on Monday. COVID-related deaths increased by 154 to 37,228. It is the 11th straight day with more than 100 newly announced fatalities. 

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