MANILA, Philippines — Quezon City's local government on Wednesday urged its residents who participated in the celebration of the Feast of the Black Nazarene in Manila on Saturday to come forward for coronavirus testing.
“As a precautionary measure, we encourage our residents who attended the celebration to have themselves immediately checked for COVID-19 in our testing centers for free,” Mayor Joy Belmonte said in a statement sent to reporters, adding that she had already requested the Manila Police District for a list of Quezon City residents who signed the health declaration forms for monitoring purposes.
“We cannot rule out the possibility of becoming infected due to the large number of attendees. We need to make sure we do not infect our family and our community partners,” she also said in Filipino.
Thousands of devotees flocked to Quiapo Church and nearby areas to attend the 15 Holy Masses celebrated in place of the procession of the Black Nazarene that was canceled to avoid the spread of the virus.
Experts at the time had already warned that a spike in COVID-19 cases would likely occur as a result of the mass gathering.
Rolly Cruz, head of the City Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit, said that any QC residents who attended the event and are now showing COVID-19 symptoms such as flu and cough to coordinate with their barangays for a referral to the nearest testing sites and health centers where they can undergo free COVID-19 testing.
As of the Department of Health's latest case bulletin issued Wednesday afternoon, a total of 1,453 new coronavirus infections were recorded, bringing the national caseload to 492,700.
The OCTA Research Team on Wednesday also disclosed that it had observed an “upward trend” in COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila following the holiday season, which saw an increase in mobility and social gatherings.
It added that the reproduction number—or the number of people who may be infected by a confirmed case—in the capital region has increased to 1.17.
"With the end of the celebration of the Translacion of the Black Nazarene, let us remember our responsibility to each other. For those who physically attended at Quiapo, visit [this link] for important reminders about your health," the health department also said for its message of the day on Sunday, January 10.
— Franco Luna with a report from Gaea Katreena Cabico