MANILA - A pediatric infectious disease specialist on Monday urged devotees who flocked to Quiapo Church for the Feast of the Black Nazarene to self-quarantine and avoid roaming around public places.
Dr. Anna Ong-Lim, member of the technical working group of the Department of Health (DOH), expressed concern the mass gathering could become a potential super-spreader event.
"Kung pumunta ka, well better talaga na mag-self-quarantine... but we know that's quite difficult. Siguro practical application is huwag na masyadong maggagala para mabawasan ang iyong potential contact," she told Teleradyo.
(If you went there, it's better if you self-quarantine... but we know that's quite difficult. Maybe for practical application is to avoid roaming around [public places] to lessen potential contact.)
Lim said it is difficult to discount the possibility that someone infected with COVID-19 may have joined the religious event.
"Ngayon pa lang, magandang mag-ingat para kung may mangyari within the next 14 days, hindi tayo masyadong maraming idinadamay. Kung wala, eh 'di maganda," she said.
(It's better if we take precautions now so if something will happen in the next 14 days, not many people will get infected. If nothing will happen, then that's better.)
Despite the threat of COVID-19, some 400,000 people attended the religious activities in Quiapo Church and its vicinity since Friday, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno had said.
Metro Manila police also said majority of the devotees followed health protocols such as physical distancing amid backlash on social media.
The parochial vicar of Quiapo Church earlier discouraged devotees to attend Saturday's event as they could join the festivities online.
This year's annual procession of Black Nazarene, popularly known as Traslacion, has been canceled due to the pandemic.