Policemen who were deployed in Manila to secure the Black Nazarene procession will be subjected to swab testing to determine if they were infected by the coronavirus amid criticisms that the procession, which was in fact described as a super-spreader of the virus, was in violation of quarantine protocols.
Brig. Gen. Ildebrandi Usana, spokesman of the Philippine National Police (PNP), said the deployed policemen underwent Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) tests before they were deployed in Manila to secure the traditional Traslacion, or the procession of the image of the Black Nazarene.
“Yes they will undergo a test. That’s for sure,” said Usana.
He said that even the policemen themselves are requesting for the swab test and would not go home for fear that they were infected, what with the high number of devotees who flocked to join the procession on Saturday, Jan. 9.
Police estimated that there were more or less 400,000 devotees who participated in the procession amid the serious threat of COVID-19 and amid fears that the new variant of the virus would spread in the country.
Observers said standard health and safety protocols were blatantly disregarded, and the PNP was again criticized for allowing the event to happen.
More than 27,000 policemen were tapped to secure the Black Nazarene procession, which was declared by the PNP as peaceful and orderly. Hundreds of augmentation forces from various government agencies were also tapped for additional security.
“Our personnel themselves who were deployed in Manila do not want to go home because they wanted to make sure that they are safe from virus infection. It is their family who would suffer if they test positive,” said Usana.
Usana, however, said they are confident in the safety of their personnel since all of them made sure that they observed the health and safety protocols, which include the wearing of face masks and of face shields at all times.
“We presumed they carefully protected themselves using all the necessary minimum health protocols during the Traslacion,” said Usana.
The PNP has two molecular laboratories for COVID-19 at Camp Crame in Quezon City. The results are usually released within 24 to 48 hours. The molecular laboratories could accommodate 420 tests per day.