MANILA — The Department of Health (DOH) has raised code white alert in 16 hospitals across Metro Manila as the capital gears up for the "Traslacion" of the Black Nazarene on Jan. 9.
Code white alert will ensure that medical personnel and medicine supply required to address the needs of those to be injured amid the annual procession are ready, the DOH said in a statement on Tuesday.
"Medical specialists are placed on stand-by for the immediate treatment of incoming patients, while emergency service personnel, nursing and administrative personnel are placed on on-call status for immediate mobilization," said the DOH.
Fourteen health emergency response teams will also be deployed along the route of the "Traslacion" to provide medical service to the devotees, according to the DOH.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III advised devotees with chronic illnesses to bring maintenance medicine or stay at home instead.
The health chief also discouraged children and pregnant women from joining the procession, which is expected to draw millions of people.
Devotees attending the event should wear comfortable clothing and protective footwear, said Duque.
He also encouraged devotees to bring fans to combat the heat and raincoats or ponchos in case of rain.
Duque also told devotees to bring water to avoid dehydration and snacks, such as candies and chocolates, to quickly relieve hunger.
Devotees, most walking barefoot in maroon and yellow shirts, jostle annually to touch the ropes pulling the carriage of the Black Nazarene or throw white towels to wipe the statue believed to have miraculous powers.
Officials expect this year's Traslacion to be quicker than last year's 22-hour procession since it will take a new route.
-- Report from Jaehwa Bernardo, ABS-CBN News