MANILA - The Archdiocese of Manila on Saturday said it would not hold public religious activities from Aug. 3 to 14 in response to calls by medical groups to revert Metro Manila to tough lockdown.
In a pastoral instruction titled "We Hear the Call," Bishop Broderick Pabillo said all churches and shrines of the archdiocese would now observe stricter protocols similar to the enhanced community quarantine.
"We will also use this time to evaluate our church response to the pandemic and see how we can improve them," the apostolic administrator and auxiliary bishop said.
While public religious activities are suspended for 2 weeks in the archdiocese, its online services will continue.
The top Manila prelate said he understood the burden of the disease on health workers who have been fighting COVID-19 for months.
"Many among them are tired and even discouraged by their heavy responsibilities. So we support their appeal for a time-out," he said.
"We understand that they call for this not only for their own respite, though they truly need one. They call for a period of time to reassess the response that we as a country have to this pandemic."
Pabillo, who recently contracted the illness, said current responses to COVID-19 don't seem to work as infections pile up.
"So all the stakeholders really need this time to come together to evaluate and improve our approaches to fight this pandemic," he said.
Dozens of medical groups on Saturday called on the Philippine government to impose ECQ in Metro Manila for 2 weeks as the country's health-system is under strain from COVID-19 cases.
Some 4,823 health workers have so far caught COVID-19, of which 38 have succumbed to the disease, latest figures from the Department of Health (DOH) showed.
To date, the Philippines has logged 98,232 cases, with 4,963 new infections reported Saturday.
The tally includes 2,039 fatalities, 65,265 recoveries and 30,928 active cases.