The search for five professional “prayers warriors” for the dead is on after the Negros Occidental provincial OIC budget officer and her brother-in-law tested positive for COVID-19, Provincial Administrator Rayfrando Diaz said today, November 16.
The two are suspected to have been hit by the virus when prayers for the dead were held at their residence, Diaz said.
“We are looking for those five professional prayer warriors who may be transferring from one wake to the next and spreading the virus, “ he said.
The Provincial Health Office has been instructed to locate these persons who are seniors and volunteer to lead prayers, so they can be tested for COVID-19, he said.
The OIC budget officer Gemma Rose Flores developed a fever on November 11, submitted herself for voluntary swabbing for COVID -19 on Friday, November 13, and was determined to be positive for the virus the next day, Diaz said.
Contact tracing was immediately conducted, and her family members and co-employees in the provincial government were tested for COVID-19, Diaz said.
Her brother-in-law tested positive for COVID-19, while her co-workers at the Capitol tested negative, he added.
The Provincial Budget Office and the Sangguniang Panlalawigan session hall at the Capitol in Bacolod City have been decontaminated, he said.
On Wednesday last week, November 11, the OIC budget officer appeared before the SP for the budget hearing, he explained.
She was wearing a face mask and there was social distancing during the budget hearing, he said.
However, as a precaution, the other department heads present at the hearing who sat near the OIC budget officer were tested for the virus and the results were negative, he said.
Others who were at the hearing were swabbed for the virus this morning but the results are not out yet, Diaz added.
But it appears that the infection transpired in the OIC budget officer’s residence in Bacolod City, he said.
Somebody died and her family held prayers for the dead that was joined by five people who are considered professional prayer warriors, Diaz said.
This is one of the aspects we are looking at as the cause of their infection, he said.
Diaz said the public is being reminded that the COVID-19 threat remains and people should think twice before allowing other people into their homes to pray or eat during a wake.
He pointed out that previously there was a surge of COVID-19 cases in Kabankalan City that started at a wake for the dead.*