Lenten rites go virtual, Davao city mayor reiterates Catholic Church announcement
DAVAO CITY –– For the second year in a row and because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be no Visita Iglesia on Holy Thursday, no way of the cross on Good Friday, no blessing of fire outside the church on Black Saturday, and no “salubong” (or meeting with the Risen Christ) on Easter Sunday.
The Catholic church had announced that most of its Lenten events would again go virtual this year, Mayor Sara Duterte said.
“I (just want to reiterate) what the Catholic church (had earlier) announced, we have asked their permission to announce this publicly,” the mayor said.
“The Blessed Sacrament after the evening Mass of the Last Supper will only be live-streamed, there will be no washing of feet during Mass,” the mayor said.
In the afternoon [of Good Friday], the images of the Santo Entierro and the Mater Dolorosa would be carried around, but no crowd would be allowed, she said over the Davao City Disaster Radio.
While amusement and tourism activities have been allowed during Holy Week, people still need to wear face masks, observe physical distancing, and regular washing of hands, she said.
“Inside the city, (visitors) will need (to use their) QR Code to facilitate contact tracing (in case, they come in contact with a COVID-19 case), and surveillance swabs in district offices will continue as well as the monitoring of people with flu-like symptoms.”
Despite the clamor by some sectors to resume the free real-time polymerase chain reaction testing for travelers arriving at the Davao City International Airport amid the rising COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila, the mayor said testing at the airport would remain random and voluntary.
The National Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases recently classified Davao City as among the minimal risk areas for COVID-19, based on its updated community quarantine matrix.
Dr. Ashley Lopez, acting Davao City Health Officer, said the new classification was based on the two-week growth rate of COVID-19 cases in the city and the average daily attack rate (Adar), which appeared to be decreasing.
“Our two-week growth rate has been a negative 58.26 percent, which means the cases have been decreasing, while our average daily attack rate is less than one in every 100,000 population, which is classified as low,” Lopez said.
The matrix showed that Davao City recorded 563 COVID-19 cases in the past three to four weeks, which went down to 235 cases in the past two weeks.
As of March 16, the city recorded 13,408 cases, of which only 398 or three percent remained active.
As a result of the decreasing number of COVID-19 cases in the city, the occupancy of the city’s temporary treatment and monitoring facilities has gone down to only 13.8 percent, while the utilization rate of the COVID-19 beds and the Intensive Care Unit beds at the Southern Philippines Medical Center remained at 60 percent.
But Lopez warned the people of Davao not to be complacent because the recent rise in COVID-19 cases in the country, reportedly because of the entry of the highly-transmissible coronavirus variants, could cause the numbers to rise.
The mayor also reiterated her earlier order, which limited up to 25 people, the maximum number allowed to gather in any one place in the city.
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