Two continents apart, the Philippines and the United States are waiting with bated breath for the backlash of two significant events that happened on the same week in terms of the infection curve.
The 6 November US Capitol siege and the 9 November Traslacion are considered huge breaches in the global effort to contain the still raging coronavirus disease. Both were termed as likely super-spreader episodes.
A mob of US President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the halls of Congress on Wednesday last week, causing fears of an unwanted surge in the already high daily coronavirus disease (Covid) infection figures. It is feared to also affect the members of Congress.
Reports stated that unmasked Republicans were packed into secure rooms with their colleagues.
Lawmakers and Capitol staff on Sunday received a memo from the Capitol’s attending physician warning of a possible risk of Covid exposure after lawmakers were forced to gather in a secure location without regard to health protocols during the breach of the Capitol.
Two Democratic lawmakers who have tested positive in the days since are blaming fellow members of Congress who refused to wear masks while being secured from the unruly crowd.
“Only hours after President Trump incited a deadly assault on our Capitol, our country and our democracy, many Republicans still refused to take the bare minimum Covid precaution and simply wear a damn mask in a crowded room during a pandemic — creating a super-spreader event on top of a domestic terrorist attack,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington said, announcing the result of her being positive for the disease.
Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey said in a statement that she believes she was “exposed during protective isolation in the US Capitol building as a result of insurrectionist riots.”
An aide said Coleman was in a room with six House Republicans, who were captured on video refusing masks offered by a colleague during the siege.
Two Republican lawmakers who were similarly in protective isolation have also announced that they tested positive for the virus.
Similarly, in the country, Department of Health (DoH) Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said tests within three weeks will reveal if the Traslacion 2021 will result in the feared rise in Covid cases.
She noted that the DoH has already detected a rise in the number of cases in the past four days compared to the seven-day moving average during the holidays.
“This has to be interpreted cautiously since during the holiday period, the laboratory output decreased by as much as 30 percent. So, our laboratories’ functions are normalizing just now, and this might have some effect on the number of reported cases,” Vergeire said.
Reminders and even warnings from the government failed to convince devotees to forego visiting Quiapo Church during the main religious celebration, which in the past saw crowds of up to two million gather to join the procession of the miraculous icon of the Black Nazarene.
For the most ardent followers of the religious image, the pandemic was all the more a reason to troop to the venerated image to seek divine intervention in ending the global catastrophe.
Vergeire assessed at least three weeks are needed to get a more accurate conclusion on the trend of cases from the congregation during the Feast of the Black Nazarene.
A particular concern was that the faithful came from different parts of the country to fulfill their yearly vows.
“Before, we had positive growth. Now we found in our newly-reported cases, the National Capital Region doesn’t log a rise in cases. We can see the rise of cases in other regions,” the DoH official explained.
What is required from individuals is to practice utmost discipline in keeping with the scientifically proven ways of avoiding contamination through the simple practice of distancing and wearing of masks.
Following such simple protocols have become a test for humanity who can’t resist conventions and social callings while having a hard time adapting to the demands of virtual isolation.
Human frailty has proven to be a frequent stumbling block for a global undertaking even in the face of widespread agony, particularly against a tough enemy that had ravaged the world for almost a year.
Covid is a strange challenge which requires humanity to come together by being basically physically apart.