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Safety first

Thousands of Cebuanos believe the Señor Santo Niño will protect them from Covid-19 as they go out and pray at the Basilica del Santo Niño during the nine-day Novena and during the feast itself of Cebu City’s Patron.

Thus, they go out of their way and show themselves at the basilica despite the dangers.

Starting late December 2020, the number of positive cases in Cebu City has began rising. This was triggered by the arrival of a doctor from Manila who did an operation at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC). Although initially tested as negative, a later test for Covid-19 turned positive. During the Christmas holidays, he infected several doctors and nurses. The contact tracing includes their friends and relatives.

This developed as Cebu City goes into the Pista Senyor mode. While it is good that Cebu City officials heeded calls for doing away with Sinulog festival activities that would have attracted millions of revelers, the mass gathering at the basilica continues. This development raises the specter of super-spreader events for Covid-19.

While one can pray to God anywhere, there is this notion that during the fiesta, one must go physically to the basilica. This has been the practice for centuries.

However, the coronavirus spreads during mass gatherings. The virus does not care if the occasion was a religious gathering dedicated to the Senyor or not. Thus, there is this real danger of a spike again in positive cases.

It would be unfortunate if authorities would be forced to impose again the harsh lockdown we experienced last year. But the implementation of a better information campaign would been better. The Senyor would not mind prayers done at home. He would be happy if Cebuanos would consider safety first.