The Department of Health (DOH) on Friday told Black Nazarene devotees to strictly adhere to Covid-19 protocols, reminding them that “the virus is still here.”
“Wear facemask. We all know that thousands of people will attend the Feast of the Black Nazarene. If you go there, I hope you are vaccinated so that you can be protected against Covid-19,” DOH Officer-in-Charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a media forum.
She also reminded the devotees to stay hydrated.
The Philippine Red Cross (PRC), meanwhile, said it will dispatch from Jan. 7, Saturday, to 9, Monday, more than 300 volunteers in four first aid stations and welfare desks along the procession route with 17 teams of foot patrollers serving as mobile first-aiders as hundreds of thousands of devotees are expected to gather at Quiapo Church and the Quirino Grandstand during those days for the Black Nazarene’s first-ever “Walk of Faith.”
Firetrucks and ambulance teams will also be in strategic areas starting January 7 to provide medical assistance to devotees coming from different regions of the country.
“A stampede and other incidents can happen in large crowds. We will prepare and deploy our volunteers, ambulance teams, and Emergency Response Units to ensure the safety of participants in the Black Nazarene Feast,” said PRC Chairman and CEO Richard J. Gordon.
The PRC also released the following safety reminders to help devotees avoid incidents that may occur during the feast:
– Secure your house before leaving. Unplug all electrical appliances
– Be mentally and physically prepared
– Pregnant women and persons who are sick are advised to stay home and rest
-Bring protective gear against heat and rain
-When coming in groups, designate a meeting point in case someone gets lost
-Know the location, means of access, police stations and first aid stations within the area
-If there is an untoward incident, do not panic but take necessary precautions.
-Keep an ID with personal medical information and emergency contact numbers with you.
-Bring water, food and medications.
-Wear a facemask, and practice proper disinfection.
-Wear proper clothing and footwear and don’t accessories.
-Download the FIRST AID – IFRC APP, in case of emergency, call the Red Cross 143 hotline or 87902300.
In addition to these safety reminders, the PRC reiterated the importance of practicing minimum public health protocols, reminding that the transmission of Covid-19 is relatively high in crowded settings.