CEBU CITY – As health authorities noted a surge in coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases here, Augustinian friars on Monday decided to cancel all public Masses at the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño effective on Tuesday (Jan. 12).
Fr. Pacifico Nohara Jr., before the Basilica, said in a statement that devotees and pilgrims can only participate in novena Masses and celebrations for the Fiesta Señor 2021 through live streaming via Facebook, Youtube, and other broadcast partners.
“For four days, we have observed that the surge of people coming to venerate and celebrate the novena Masses has brought us into a conclusion that a greater action should be done to prevent (sic) us from the virus,” Nohara said in the statement.
In a separate advisory, the priest said despite the cancellation of Holy Masses, the Basilica will still be open from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. for the pilgrims and devotees who want to visit the image of the Sto. Niño.
“Pilgrims and devotees are strictly advised to observe and follow the minimum health protocols implemented in the Basilica,” the advisory read.
The devotees and pilgrims are permitted inside the Basilica only for “quick veneration of the image of Sto. Niño and offering of personal prayers,” it added.
The decision to cancel all public Masses at the Basilica came after the Department of Health (DOH) in Central Visayas reported 49 new cases on Sunday in this capital city alone, bringing the total active infections here to 370 from the 128 logged on the first day of the year.
In a statement, the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) here said “medical experts continue to clarify that the sudden increase of cases is attributable to the social gatherings celebrated during the Christmas season”.
“EOC reminds the public that the virus follows the human behavioral pattern, and it is only human behavior that curbs its spread,” the EOC said.
The EOC recommended that those who have participated in social gatherings, “especially during the Sto. Niño pilgrimage to self-isolate for 14 days, especially if they start to experience the symptoms of the coronavirus”.
Meanwhile, Vice Mayor Michael Rama, designated by Mayor Edgardo Labella to oversee the cultural aspect of the Sinulog 2021, said in a radio interview the Sinulog Foundation also decided to cancel the inter-village dance ritual competition to prevent the spread of Covid-19 during the production of cultural events to be aired via a virtual platform. (PNA)