DOH fears post-holiday COVID-19 surge
An officer controls the flow of shoppers at Divisoria Market in Manila yesterday, days after a lack of physical distancing was seen among bargain seekers.
Krizjohn Rosales

DOH fears post-holiday COVID-19 surge

Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - November 25, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health is bracing for a possible surge in COVID-19 cases after the Christmas season, prompting DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III to issue a circular discouraging traditional holiday festivities to avoid the transmission of the virus.

During a meeting of the government’s pandemic task force in Davao City on Monday night, Duque said the DOH formed a contingency plan to enable health authorities and other officials to respond in case a post-holiday surge in COVID infections occurs.

“I would like to remind everyone that the downward trend in the number of COVID-19 cases should not make us complacent,” Duque said.

The DOH will implement Department Circular 2020-0355 to remind the people to continue observing minimum health standards such as wearing of face masks and shields, physical distancing and frequent handwashing to prevent the spread of the virus.

Under the circular, holiday activities such as caroling, shopping in flea markets and crowded malls, indoor gatherings with large crowds, riding in jampacked public utility vehicles and other activities that involve physical contact are discouraged.

The DOH said online masses, noche buena and media noche with respective families at home, video calls and shopping online are safer alternatives.

“We are reminding everyone that the threat of COVID-19 is still there so we need to be careful. We have to take care of our health and our safety,” Duque said.

President Duterte said Filipinos should do their part to contain COVID-19, which has infected more than 420,000 people.

“It’s important to reduce the number of people who will be infected. We can have fewer cases of COVID if we just follow, and there’s prompt medical attention given to those who are infected with COVID,” Duterte said.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque reminded owners of tiangges or flea markets to ensure that physical distancing measures are followed in their establishments.

“I would like to remind the tiangge operators. Your stores may be shut down if you don’t observe social distancing,” he said.

The DOH reiterated its call to the public to reinvent the way they celebrate Christmas by avoiding traditional parties and reunions with relatives and friends.

According to DOH, even traveling is not advisable due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“These activities are not advisable as these place the public at higher risk of contracting the virus,” the DOH said.

Health officials advised the public to prefer activities with short duration of contact, ensure proper ventilation in venues and increase physical and mental resilience.

The DOH underscored the need to practice “BIDA,” which stands for “bawal walang mask, i-sanitize ang mga kamay, dumistansya ng isang metro at alamin ang totoong impormasyon.”

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire reminded the public about the underlying risks of exposing oneself to overcrowded places.

“Exploring congested areas, close-contact settings and confined places are factors that pose high risk of COVID-19 transmission. The threat of the virus is even higher when these factors overlap,” she said.

Vergeire said the public may resort to virtual holiday activities to mitigate the spread of the virus. – Sheila Crisostomo

  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?
Login is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with