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Holy Week Activities Unlikely To Cause Increase In COVID-19 Cases – OCTA

Holy Week Activities Unlikely To Cause Increase In COVID-19 Cases – OCTA
Domestic travelers and foreign tourists wait for boarding at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 4 on April 7, 2022 for flights to provinces and tourist destinations ahead of the Holy Week break. Photo by Rudy Santos, The Philippine STAR

Members of the Catholic faithful are expected to flock to churches and other places nationwide this Holy Week, but OCTA Research said on Monday, April 11, it is not seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases because of Lenten activities.

OCTA fellow Fr. Nic Austriaco noted that a significant increase in cases is unlikely to happen as the religious activities during the Holy Week are much more “calm” than the campaign rallies for the May elections being held by national and local candidates in the past weeks.

“Look at all of those rallies around our country for the last month, I doubt that the activities of Holy Week will be as crazy or as wild as some of the singing and dancing and shows you saw at the rallies,” Austriaco told “Sa Totoo Lang” on One PH.

“So if we can do it in the rallies without increasing a surge risk, it's likely. As long as we are still careful, we do not expect a significant risk from Holy Week activities,” the priest emphasized.

Meanwhile, Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesperson Jean Fajardo disclosed that they are now coordinating with the management of several establishments, particularly those in tourist spots and terminals to assist travelers nationwide.

Fajardo told “One Balita Pilipinas” on Monday that the preparations were done before the Holy Week.

As of Sunday, April 10, Fajardo bared that the PNP already deployed 59,000 law enforcers and set up police assistance desks to be of service to thousands of travelers in different tourist destinations in the country during the Holy Week.

Marami po tayong naka-deploy na pulis dito sa ating mga transport terminals diyan po sa ating mga places of convergence,” Fajardo said.

To prevent a possible surge in COVID cases, the Department of Health (DOH) on Monday reminded the public anew to strictly observe health protocols during the Holy Week celebration.

DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire also assured the public of the government's readiness to respond in case of a possible surge.

“The possibility (of surge) is there but we are prepared if and when tumaas ang mga kaso dahil tayo ay nakaranas na ng pagtaas ng kaso in the past and our units are mobilized already to prepare for this," Vergeire said in a television interview.

She advised families and the public in general to be cautious and continue observing minimum public health standards as they join Holy Week activities or go on vacation to avoid COVID-19 transmission.

Gusto lang natin magpaalala…this Holy Week alam natin na marami tayong activities sa ating simbahan marami sa ating pamilya pupunta sa iba't -ibang lugar para magbakasyon sana laging natin isipin the virus is still here,” Vergeire stressed.

She reiterated that COVID 19 can be transmitted even by sharing food and utensils.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and medical doctors have warned of a surge with the Holy Week observance and possible entry of the Omicron XE variant.

Vergeire said no case of Omicron XE and other recombinant variants of COVID 19 have been detected in the country until this time.

As protection against COVID 19, the health official also urged those eligible to get the necessary additional vaccines or booster shots.

Vergeire said vaccination coverage among senior citizens has already reached 76 percent and 93 percent for those with comorbidities.

But out of the 44 million individuals eligible, Vergeire said only about 12 million have received their booster shots.

Ang ating iniinda ngayon na medyo challenging sa ating lahat would be the booster doses. Kailangan po maintindihan ng ating kababayan that our immunity wanes from our primary series, ‘yung  first and second dose so kailangan po nating magpabakuna dahil ‘yung Omicron XE nakakaapekto sa ating protection na bininbigay ng bakuna. Kailangan dagdagan that's why we need the booster,” she explained.

In a separate television interview, Vergeire said, less than 10 percent of COVID 19 vaccines obtained by the government are considered wastage.

The DOH, she said, was able to obtain approval from the Food and Drug Administration to extend the shelf life of the vaccines that are about to expire.