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Amid The Pandemic, Thousands Attend The Annual Black Nazarene Feast In The Philippines

Mark Andrew

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  • The annual Black Nazarene procession attracts thousands of attendees each year in Manila, Philippines.
  • Amid the pandemic, the church and the government still went ahead with the event, implementing safety measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
  • Critics, however, are pointing out that physical distancing have been widely violated and may soon lead to dire consequences.

Held annually in Quiapo, Manila, the “Traslacion” of the Black Nazarene attracts a huge crowd of devotees desiring to pay homage to the life-sized, dark-skinned sculpture of Jesus Christ.

This year, the religious event has gained mixed reactions from the public amid the pandemic. Of course, the Catholic Church and the government had to remind attendees to observe health protocols because of Covid-19. On the other hand, some are saying the gathering can be considered as a “super spreader” and should have instead been cancelled this year.

In his Facebook post, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso praised the church, the police force and the government workers for successfully managing the crowd.

Thank you Quiapo Church, all members of the Manila Police District and all workers of the City Government of Manila!…

Posted by Isko Moreno Domagoso on Saturday, January 9, 2021
Authorities did not permit pilgrims to go barefoot, a common tradition from the past years.

Moreover, bags have been banned and people were only allowed to bring water bottles with them.

In the Quiapo Church, barricades were placed around the establishment and attendance was limited to 400 people for the hourly services. Plus they were “required to wear face masks and face shields,” according to a report.

However, several photos and videos circulated online showing how some devotees failed to follow health measures during the event.
Social distancing was not observed as people drew closer to get a glimpse of the statue.
“A recipe for a super spreading event.”

Dr Tony Leachon, former adviser of the National Task Force (NTF) against Covid-19, described the event as a super spreader, warning that there will be possible consequences soon.

The doctor also added:

“I believe that the government should have planned well to prevent the mass gatherings to prevent a huge surge given the new strain and the lack of vaccines. I’m afraid that the surge will lead to stricter quarantine classification and affect our economy.

“We know that social distancing violations will lead to [an] increased number of cases. Our faith is not proven by physical presence only.”

Watch this video report:

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As of this writing, the Philippines has reported 487,690 confirmed Covid-19 cases with 9,405 deaths and 458,198 recoveries.

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