MANILA, Philippines — A diocese in the Philippines has launched an application, E-Pray, for spiritual accompaniment during COVID-19 isolation.

E-Pray is a free web application where patients can type in their contact details so that priests can get in touch with them, reported Novaliches Diocese in Manila said the app was developed by its social communications ministry in response to a recent spike in COVID-19 cases in the Philippine capital.

“With this E-Pray app, COVID patients can communicate with our diocese for spiritual advice and counseling. We can also reach out to them by allowing them to send their prayer intentions to us,” the diocese said in an announcement on social media.

“The pandemic has prevented churchgoers from accessing their priests and has deprived them of their spiritual life. During times when we feel like we are about to surrender, the presence of a priest is very important for guidance,” said Father Luciano Felloni, the diocese’s social communications director.

He said the internet must be maximized for the church’s mission to be more alive and active during the pandemic.

“The problem (for sick Catholics) is that there is no direct contact, because priests are not allowed to enter hospitals and quarantine facilities,” the priest added.

Although priests cannot hear confession with the app, they can use it to pray for and with the sick, he said. reported Novaliches Diocese has assured people the sick can reach a priest day or night.

“The platform will be manned by a number of volunteers who will put a sick person through to an available priest. We have enough priests and volunteers to make this work,” the diocese said.

Felloni said more than 30 priests — including one from New York — have volunteered for the project.

“Let’s not allow any single patient to go without prayer, to go without being blessed by a priest. Let’s help in our little and very simple way. Let us help with the grace of prayer,” he added.

On April 7, the Philippines had recorded more than 819,000 COVID-19 cases, with more than 14,000 deaths since the pandemic began. On April 7 alone, more than 6,400 new cases and 242 deaths were recorded, down from a peak of 11,020 new cases earlier in the week.