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'Not exempted from infection': DOH discourages minors from going out

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'Not exempted from infection': DOH discourages minors from going out
Shoppers take a selfie with a Santa Claus decoration on November 30, 2020.
The STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health maintained Wednesday that children must not be allowed to go out of their homes during the holiday season to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus disease.  

In a briefing, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the department is discouraging minors from leaving their homes.

This, after the Department of the Interior and Local Government said that minors in areas under general community quarantine may soon be allowed to go to shopping centers as long as they are accompanied by their parents. Ordinances to allow children to go to malls with their parents will be up to local government units 

“Our position has not changed. As much as possible, we discourage that because the risk is still there,” Duque said in Filipino.

“Around 3% to 5% of our total infected cases are children. They’re not exempted from getting infected,” he added.

The Philippines has so far reported 432,925 COVID-19 cases, with 8,418 deaths.

The health chief also noted that even though children may not exhibit severe symptoms, they can be spreaders of the virus. 

“When they talk or hug their family members, children could cause transmission and we would have a high infection rate,” Duque said. 

Currently, individuals aged 15 to 65 can go out in areas under GCQ and modified GCQ, the loosest form of quarantine classification in the country.

Metro Manila mayors seek experts’ opinion

Metro Manila mayors will wait for the opinion of medical experts before they decide on allowing minors to go to shopping centers with their parents, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority general manager Jojo Garcia said.

Garcia said that Metro Manila mayors sought the opinion of Philippine Pediatric Society so the latest easing of restrictions will be “based on facts,” The STAR reported.

“Mayors are not experts in the medical field. And if a surge happens, mayors will be blamed. It’s good to hear the opinion of experts in that field,” Garcia said in an interview on radio DZBB.

Once the experts’ opinions are available, the mayors will hold an emergency meeting and vote whether or not to allow minors in malls with their parents.

The age-based restrictions will remain in the capital region for now pending the opinion of the PPS. In Metro Manila, only residents aged 18 to 65 can go outside of their homes.  — with a report from The STAR/Marc Jayson Cayabyab

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