Manila (AFP) – Priests delivered blessings from the back of trucks and motorized tricycles on Philippine Sunday and adapted the traditions of the deeply Catholic nation to the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
Locals lined up in front of their homes in a district of Manila that is entering the fourth week of a closure that has almost brought the hectic metropolis to a standstill.
The priests made signs of the cross as they passed by waving residents who marked Palm Sunday, the beginning of the week that culminated in Easter observance.
“This celebration continues despite the spread of the virus,” said Bong Sosa, who was wearing a mask from a water cooler bottle.
The blessing comes when the Philippines recorded a total of 144 deaths and 3,094 confirmed virus cases. These numbers are expected to increase as the nation continues to test.
The quarantine, which closed schools and businesses and stopped all social and religious events in most of the country, is expected to be extended beyond mid-April, the authorities said.
Easter is an important holiday in the Philippines when millions usually return to their family homes outside the capital, but severe restrictions on movement will disrupt these trips this year.
Bans on large public events also mean that overcrowded churches are usually empty, except for priests who hold masses that are broadcast live to tens of millions of homes.