Holy Week overshadowed by Covid-19 pandemic

Holy Week overshadowed by Covid-19 pandemic

INFOGRAPHIC courtesy by Manila PIO

Sourced from UCA News by Tracy Cabrera

MANILA — As millions of Filipino Catholics celebrate the resurrection of Christ today on Easter Sunday while most are locked inside their homes due to strict quarantine restrictions, families now realize the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and how their complacency has triggered the recent surge of infections that has seen a record 15,310 new cases in a single day.

And with the number of Covid-19 cases steadily increasing since late March after government eased the minimum health safety protocols and slowly opened businesses to help the economy recover, this year’s Easter is being celebrated in an atmosphere filled with anxiety about the spread of the virus.

As the government decided to further tighten the implementation of health protocols and revert almost the whole of the National Capital Region (NCR) and other urban centers across the country to enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), churches were primarily holding religious services online.

The Philippines has recorded 772,497 coronavirus cases as of April 3, 2021, equivalent to only about a fraction of the percentage of tests carried out, or 0.8 percent of the country’s more than 110 million population. However, only 13,320 deaths have been recorded since the health crisis began more than a year ago.

When announcing the more than 15,000 new cases on April 2, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) noted that several patients have been infected by the more transmissible mutated Covid-19 variants while there were also critical cases of infected individuals with comorbidities or with history of obesity, diabetes and other ailments of concern.

In reaction to the surge of new cases and a way to map out a program to curb the pandemic, the government is now increasing the number of tests after establishing additional Covid testing centers.

Yet the worrisome conditions has prompted President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to order the NCR and outlying provinces and other selected areas to go back to ECQ status for a week from March 29 to April 4 and then extend it for another week from April 5 to 11 the current year.

The declaration was made based on recommendations of health experts and the IATF-MEID which was supported by the 17 local chief executives of the Metro Manila Commission (MMC) and with no oppositors.

Duterte’s decision to go back to ECQ reestablished the same measures implemented previously at the early stage of the quarantine restrictions in order to deal with the pandemic, including the deployment of police to curb citizens who violate the protocols.

Aside from restricting people mobility to essential travel, the present situation limits large-scale gatherings and other activities.

The government has also authorized local government units (LGUs) to decide on imposing granular lockdowns as well as a unified curfew.

Meanwhile, vaccine czar rime Carlito Galvez Jr. announced that government is already in contact with international entities to ensure timely access to vaccines in accordance with the government’s commitment to immunize majority of the population by the end of this year.

“Until the delivery (of donated and purchased vaccines) takes place, it is the responsibility of all of us to help prevent our countrymen from dying because of this virus. The attitude of each of us will ensure the protection of our own lives and save the lives of others,” Galvez said in a statement.

As this developed, recently appointed Manila Archbishop Jose Fuerte Advincula sought to give strength to the faithful and churchgoers after Easter Sunday mass.

Advincula said that even though Easter comes in the midst of this difficult situation, it “must not stifle the Easter spirit in our hearts and stop our hope of spreading the spirit of Easter to others.”

He added that “Covid-19 forces all of us to stay at home, restricts our movement,” but Christ is our hope.

“This message must be transmitted everywhere, but we hope that Covid-19 does not spread everywhere,” he stressed.

The Manila archbishop invited Pinoy Christians to set their eyes on God “so that he can heal all our wounds.”

In conclusion, Advincula noted that “the (Easter) moment also brings us to remember those who are now in the isolation room, who are in quarantine and their families who because of this situation cannot gather together.”

“We also provide solidarity for medical personnel who work tirelessly day and night and other parties who remain at the forefront of this situation,” he concluded. (AI/MTVN)

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