DOH to monitor COVID-19 situation by end-January for possible impact of Traslacion

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 12)— The Health Department said Tuesday it will be closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation by the end of the month to see if the celebration of the Black Nazarene Feast would contribute to the spike in cases.

“We will look about three to four weeks from that time since the Traslacion happened,” Health Spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergiere told CNN Philippines’ The Source. “So maybe towards the end of January it is where we’ll see if really the cases have increased because of this.”

The religious spectacle held every January 9 typically gathers millions of devotees, but for this year, government officials, health experts, and even the Quiapo Church urged them to celebrate at home due to the ongoing pandemic.

Despite the advisories, hundreds of thousands of faithful still flocked to the Quiapo Church last Saturday to join in the feast — a development that experts warned may contribute to an increase in virus infections.

“As we’ve seen, they just ignored these warnings and they went on to the Quiapo Church to have this activity. We think this might aggravate our situation if ever there would be increasing cases,” Vergeire added.

The agency earlier advised those who have attended the physical masses to minimize their interactions, especially with the vulnerable members of their household, and to conduct active self-monitoring for any symptoms.

It also called on local government units to coordinate with Quiapo Church to get the list of attending devotees, and to actively monitor their constituents who took part in the event for early detection of possible COVID-19 cases and limit transmission.