DUE to the threat of another surge of Covid-19 cases in Davao City, the local government and organizers of the feast of Sto. Niño at the Holy Infant Jesus of Prague chapel at Shrine Hills in Matina, Davao City have mutually decided to cancel anew its physical activities on January 15 and 16, 2021.

Public Safety and Security Command Center (PSSCC) head Angel Sumagaysay confirmed this to SunStar Davao in a text message on Friday, January 7.

Sumagaysay said the organizers have heeded to the appeal of the city government to skip this year's annual religious activity.

The City Government also canceled the feast of Sto. Niño last year due to the “post-Holiday” surge of cases in the city.

Davao City Police Office (DCPO) Director Kirby John Kraft, meanwhile, said in a radio interview that masses for the 54th feast of Sto. Niño will be conducted online.

Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio initially said in her regular Monday radio interview last January 3 that the city still allows the conduct of masses during this religious activity.

However, Kraft, in the recent interview, said the mayor requested the organizer to skip the traditional face-to-face activities.

"Kahapon [January 6], nagpunta po tayo ang DCPO sa Shrine Hills administrator at nagpadala po tayo ng sulat sa kanila recommending the cancellation of all physical activities in relation sa celebration ng Sto. Niño sa Shrine Hills from January 15 to 16," the police head said in an interview on 87.5 FM Davao City Disaster Radio.

He also attributed the surge in positive Covid-19 cases in the entire country for the cancellation of the activity.

Kraft said they will deploy their personnel nearby Shrine Hills.

He said devotees are still allowed to light candles and stay for only a short period of time to avoid mass gathering.

Kraft also reminded the devout Catholics to cancel physical activities related to the feast of the Black Nazarene within communities. He advised the barangay officials to implement this order.

The Metro Manila government had already ordered the cancellation of the annual feast and ordered the closure of Quiapo church following the spike of cases in the metro.

The Department of Health-Davao Region (DOH-Davao) reported that Davao City has breached the 100-mark of active cases again with 155 in a single day.

Davao City Covid-19 Task Force Spokesperson Dr. Michelle Schlosser said on Wednesday, January 5, that the city's positivity rate, as of January 2, was at 1.6 percent. This was a notable increase from 0.3 percent on December 26, 2021.

Schlosser said the highly infectious variants -- Delta and Omicron -- might have something to do with the uptick in the positivity rate of the city.