Basilica Minore, tourism parks remain closed in Cagayan town

TUGUEGARAO CITY – Devotees flocking to the famous Basilica Minore of Our Lady of Piat in Piat town, Cagayan province would have to shelve their plans to visit as the church is placed under lockdown after a church organist died and a parish priest caught the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

In an interview on Friday, Mayor Carmelo Villacete said church organist Viel Fariñas, whose relatives waived confidentiality to allow immediate contact tracing, has been confirmed to have died of Covid-19, while Father Leifmark Butacan has been isolated.

The shrine, dubbed as the Pilgrimage Center of the North, is home to the 407-year-old Black Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Piat.

“Devotees flock (to) the church and it is a fast point of infection,” he said.

Also closed are the boating and tourism parks in Piat.

A former Covid-19 patient himself, Villacete urged villagers to cooperate as active cases have spiked from six to 28 this week.

To speed up contact tracing, town officials approved an ordinance asking infected villagers to sign an identity waiver to allow the publication of their names for contact tracing.

Authorities, he said, have ordered the burial of those who have died of Covid-19 within 12 hours, and have given four days for wakes and the burial of those who have died of non-Covid-19-related illnesses. Villamor Visaya, Jr. / PNA –