The Department of Health on Holy Monday released a video that salutes health care workers and other medical professionals for their selfless services amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The health agency encouraged the public to honor medical frontliners as they observe traditions for Holy Week.
Holy Week starts on Palm Sunday, April 10 until Easter Sunday, April 17.
“Ngayong Semana Santa, alalahanin ang mga makabagong bayani na nagbuwis ng kanilang buhay para sa ating kaligtasan. Maging bayani rin para sa ating mga bayani sa pamamagitan ng pagiging malusog at ligtas!” DOH said.
The health agency further recalled the impact of the pandemic on the lives of Filipinos, especially on their religious traditions.
“Likas na sa mga Pilipino ang maraming paniniwala – lalo na tuwing panahon Semana Santa. Mula sa Linggo ng palaspas hanggang sa araw ng pagkabuhay, naguumapaw ang tradisyon at debosyon ng mga Pilipino,” DOH said.
“Pero noong pumutok ang pandemya, ang mga lansangan ay tila nawalan ng kasiglahan. Pati ang mga simbahan ay binalot ng nakabibinging katahimikan,” it added.
DOH then encouraged Filipinos to get vaccinated against COVID-19, receive COVID-19 boosters, and become “heroes” like the country’s health workers.
“Lahat tayo’y magpabakuna at magpa-booster na para sa sarili, pamilya, at buong komunidad!” it said.
DOH’s social media pages also released additional guidelines for the safe observance of religious activities this Holy Week.
These include proper wearing face masks outdoors, getting vaccinated with booster shots and going into immediate self-isolation once COVID-19 symptoms are felt.
In a previous briefing, ahead of Holy Week, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire advised devotees against kissing the figures and statues as additional preventive measures against the still-present COVID-19.
Vergeire requested that the churches should similarly impose health protocols on their parishioners.
“We just advise, and we request our churches kung maaari lang po sana itong practice na ito ay hindi na muna natin ipatupad,” Vergeire said.
“Mayroon naman po tayong ibang bagay o ways kung paano po tayo makakapag-show ng ating devotion sa ating mga santo sa atin pong mga pinupuntahang mga simbahan,” she added.
The National Capital Region and most parts of the country are currently placed under COVID-19 Alert Level 1, the most relaxed alert level status, until April 15.
Under this alert level status, all religious gatherings are allowed without capacity restrictions.
A top official in the Catholic Church earlier called on the faithful to maintain health protocols as they flock to churches this Holy Week.