THE increase, though not extensive, in the new cases of the Covid-19 has compelled the Augustinian priests that run the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño to discontinue the public novena masses at the Basilica beginning Jan. 12. Online masses, however, will proceed as scheduled and will be broadcasted by media partners and social media sites.

The Catholic church leaders know that prevention is better than cure and complying with the health protocols is a better part of judgment during this pandemic, unlike some politicos whose egos are bigger than their heads.

The feast of the Señor Sto. Niño is celebrated every January, drawing devotees from all over the country and the world. The Sinulog street dance competition under the Sinulog Foundation Inc. (SFI) has become an international attraction that tourists would come in droves to attend the event. I was then a law student and working as a news reporter of this paper when then Ministry of Youth and Social Development (MYSD) Director Boy Odilao introduced the first Sinulog dance and parade. College students from different schools were the first street dance performers.

At this time of the year, when things were still normal, local and foreign tourists would have already arrived in Cebu to join the festivities. But with the Covid-19 menace still very much around and shutting down everything we do, all we could hear is the Sinulog jingle being played in the malls or in some radio stations.

The Department of Health (DOH) 7 expected the increase in Covid-19 infection during the celebrations of Christmas, New Year, and now the feast of the Sto. Niño as traditionally, families, relatives and friends gather during these occasions. Data from the City Emergency Operations Center (EOC) indicated that cases of outside transmission came mostly from social gatherings at 20.39 percent, workplaces at 18.9 percent, and the medical front liners at 18.4 percent.

The Regional Inter-Agency Task Force (RIATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases shot down the Sinulog ritual showdown that Cebu City Vice Mayor Mike Rama wanted to take place on Jan. 17, a Sunday, which is the regular schedule of the Sinulog street dance competition during normal times. The order of the IATF came on the heels of the request of the police to stop the Sinulog showdown since Vice Mayor Rama was hell-bent on proceeding with the event. The medical doctors also opposed Rama’s plan.

In this time of the Covid-19 pandemic, all we need is everybody’s cooperation. Cebu City doesn’t have to go back to general community quarantine. It only has to enforce the health protocols. Most people became complacent when the Covid-19 infections in the city went down. Now, the numbers are up again!

This time, the people are already conscious that the Covid-19 is deadly. But until someone in the family is infected with the virus, they wouldn’t care.

Please keep safe as we celebrate the feast of the Sto. Niño. Pit Senyor!