FEARING the spread of Covid-19 infections, the Regional Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (RIATF) 7 has recommended the cancellation of all “physical and actual performance-based” Sinulog Festival activities this year.
The RIATF sent its recommendation to the national IATF asking the latter to disallow any Sinulog performances even if these are pre-recorded.
In a resolution passed during a virtual meeting on Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021, the RIATF 7 said it deems it more practical to present Sinulog Festival activities and performances from previous years through an online platform.
The RIATF 7 said all performance-based Sinulog Festival activities such as the Ritual Dance Showdown and Street Dance Competition, among others, pose a threat to the participating contingents and the possible crowd that it might draw which may, consequently, increase the risk of Covid-19 infection.
The RIATF 7 also said even limiting the number of allowed performers in every contingent and holding pre-recorded performances in their respective places can still pose a risk of Covid-19 infection as it still requires the participants to gather and interact during rehearsals and the actual performance for the video recordings.
The RIATF 7 said this will still likely draw crowds which may be difficult to control because of limited security personnel.
The Department of Health (DOH) 7 has reported a double-digit increase in the number of active Covid-19 cases in Cebu City following the holiday celebrations.
The spike in cases comes as Cebu braces for the threat posed by the new variant of Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.
“Notwithstanding the mutual objective to preserve the culture and tradition of Sinulog, this time of global crisis calls for public health and safety to be the paramount priority of all,” reads a portion of the RIATF 7 resolution.
In separate interviews, Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella and Vice Mayor Michael Rama said they would await the IATF’s final decision.
“If IATF will not approve, I will issue a cancellation,” said Labella.
Rama, who is also the lead convenor of this year’s Sinulog, said: “Atong klaruhon na ilang recommendation kay wa na man tay SRP. Unsa pa man ilang gusto? (Let’s make their recommendation clear because we no longer have the live performances at the SRP. So what more do they want?)”
Rama was referring to the “physical activities” in this year’s Sinulog, like the street dancing, which were supposed to be held at the SRP but had already been cancelled by the City.
Sinulog organizers also decided to have the performances of the contingents for the Ritual Showdown pre-recorded in separate venues.
Prior to the RIATF 7 resolution, Labella also ordered Sinulog participants from the city’s barangays to get themselves tested for Covid and secure a negative result so they can be allowed to perform.
Labella issued the requirement after a participant in the Ritual Showdown category tested positive for the virus.
Even though all performances will be pre-recorded and shown online, the possibility of transmission still lurks during rehearsals, said Labella.
“The participants in the virtual, online, still gather together. There is still a possibility of contamination,” said Labella.
Cebu City Councilor Joel Garganera, deputy chief implementer of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC), said a pooled polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test will be conducted among the contingents.
Garganera said a group of five swab samples from five participants will be run at the same time.
He urged the Sinulog Foundation Inc. to isolate participants and start putting contingents in a “bubble” until the day of the scheduled recording of their performances.
As for the contingent whose member tested positive for Covid-19, Garganera said the group can still present since the person no longer attended rehearsals since Dec. 29, 2020.
Contact tracers also found that those who recently came into contact with the Covid-19 patient have not manifested any symptoms, Garganera said. / JJL