EVEN as throngs of devotees have begun flocking Quiapo Church and Quirino Grandstand, the Department of Health (DOH) on Saturday, January 7, 2022, issued a last-minute appeal for the faithful to consider joining the Feast of the Black Nazarene virtually.

In a public advisory, the DOH said they continue to urge the public to just stay at home and “join” the different fiesta activities in Manila online in order to minimize the transmission of coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

“The DOH reiterates the need to self-assess our risks as this will not only protect ourselves but as well as our loved ones and the community we belong in,” said the DOH.

“The Department still encourages every Juan and Juana to celebrate through online gatherings to prevent the spread of Covid-19,” it added.

In particular, the DOH said members of the vulnerable group, namely the elderly, the immunocompromised, and pregnant women, are encouraged to just stay at home.

It also said that one should only consider physically attending when vaccinated and boosted against Covid-19.

DOH said those experiencing flu-like symptoms, such as fever, sore throat, colds, and coughing, are encouraged to just stay at home.

“We remind everyone to be responsible devotees,” said the DOH.

As for those who will still decide to attend, the DOH is reminding them to bring extra masks for changing as well as water and an umbrella to combat the heat; an extra pair of clothes and towels to change into and address sweating; and sanitary kits, which contain alcohol/sanitizer, medicines, and bandaids in case of emergency.

During the event, devotees are reminded to be sure to be attentive of their surroundings and belongings to help prevent malicious activity as well as to help mitigate transmission of the virus; and to continue to employ our layers of protection against Covid-19 and other transmissible diseases.

After the event, the DOH said it is imperative for devotees to immediately clean-up themselves by taking a bath and changing their clothes; sanitize their belongings that were brought from the festivity; and limit interaction with household members, who are part of the vulnerable population for at least seven days.

The feast of the Black Nazarene this year marks the return of almost all physical activities after they were suspended for the past two years due to the pandemic. (HDT/SunStar Philippines)