Isko brushes aside fears of ‘Traslacion’ being a 'superspreader' event; says LGU is ready

Manila Mayor Francisco "Isko Moreno" Domagoso on Monday (January 11) brushed aside fears that the ‘Traslacion’ held last Saturday that gathered a crowd of about half a million devotees was a coronavirus “superspreader.”

A churchgoer passes in front of the Traslacion signage outside Quiapo Church (JANSEN ROMERO / MANILA BULLETIN)

He said the city government is ready to test, isolate, and treat those who will experience COVID-19 symptoms after leaving their homes to hear Mass. 

"Our data doesn't lie. It's been 10 months now. We must move on, we must learn how to live with COVID-19 and learn how to go to work safely, continue to open the economy. This risk should be managed," he told reporters. 

"Kung kayo ay sakaling may mararamdaman, libre ang testing sa Maynila, mag-quarantine tayo agad (If you feel any symptoms, testing is free in Manila.  Go into quarantine immediately)," 

Mayor Isko added. "Handa ang Maynila, but then again, it only proves na kapag nagkukusang disiplina ang tao, 'pag sumunod ang tao, talagang may maa-achieve tayong maganda kahit papano (Manila is ready, but then again, it only proves that when the people are disciplined, follow protocols, we will really achieve something good)."

Earlier, former Special Adviser to the National Task Force Tony Leachon said the Black Nazarene event is a "recipe for a super spreading event" that could result in "a huge surge" of COVID-19 infections. 

A superspreader event is one where a few sick people infect a large number of people. 

Leachon said the government should have planned better to avoid violations of physical distancing protocols during the event and said a strict two week lockdown should be implemented.

The Manila mayor, however, insisted that the feast of the Black Nazarene was held in a "generally peaceful" manner. He lashed out at critics of the event, claiming that the ones who released photos of crowded devotees are using the event to serve their political interests. 

As the feast of the Sto Niño de Tondo nears, Domagoso said they are still discouraging big religious events where minimum health protocols will likely be ignored. 

"Dinidiscourage pa rin natin, as much as possible, basta walang event sa labas ng simbahan (We are still discouraging it.  As much as possible, there should be no event outside the church)," he said.

"Kailangan mag-adjust lahat ng tao (Everyone should adjust), the same with Quiapo," he added. "Kahit anong religious activities, kahit anong religious sector, kailangan may disiplina (All religious activities, regardless of the religious sector, must be disciplined)."