DOH: Firecracker injuries down 85%

Sheila Crisostomo - The Philippine Star
DOH: Firecracker injuries down 85%
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said only 33 revelers were injured by firecracker blasts in welcoming 2021, which brought the total number of injuries documented to only 50 since Dec. 21, 2020.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of firecracker injuries recorded by the Department of Health (DOH) during the New Year revelry declined by 85 percent.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said only 33 revelers were injured by firecracker blasts in welcoming 2021, which brought the total number of injuries documented to only 50 since Dec. 21, 2020.

He pointed out that 340 injuries were recorded when 2020 was ushered in. This represents a decline of 85 percent compared to this new year’s 50 cases, which is also 89 percent lower than the five-year average from 2015-2019.

“The significant reduction in the total number of recorded cases may be attributed to the far-reaching effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, affecting people’s willingness and ability to celebrate through the use of fireworks,” Duque said.

He noted that the DOH observed a “change of behavior among Filipinos towards health.”

“Due to the pandemic, the Filipinos became more aware and involved in ensuring health and safety of their family and community. This decrease is also the success of all the families who follow the government’s prescribed protocols and instill good values to their children,” he claimed at a press briefing.

Duque also attributed the decline in cases to the “political will” of local government officials and the strengthened initiatives of the national government and other stakeholders in banning firecrackers.

Of the 50 injuries, all but one were fireworks-related while the lone stray bullet injury occurred on Christmas Eve. This data still do not include the three stay bullet injuries later recorded by the Philippine National Police.

The National Capital Region (NCR) – where mayors had agreed to imposed a total ban on firecrackers – recorded the highest cases at 22, followed by Calabarzon with five cases and the Ilocos, Bicol and Western Visayas regions posting four cases each.

In NCR, Manila had the most number of injuries (12 cases), followed by Caloocan (4 ), Pasig and Quezon City (2 each) and Malabon and Marikina (1 case each). Overall, the region registered an 88 percent decrease in the number of cases.

Duque said that legal fireworks caused the most injuries in this year’s revelry at 55 percent.

“This underscores the fact that legal and illegal fireworks are both harmful… Let us be reminded that whether legal or illegal, they are really dangerous not only to our health but to our environment,” he added.

The DOH identified the top injury-causing fireworks were kwitis (29 percent), boga (8 percent), 5-Star (8 percent), fountain (8 percent ) and triangle (8 percent).

The ages of the victims ranged from four years to 53 years, with the most affected coming from the 10-14 age bracket. Only two percent of the injuries required amputation.

“The lower numbers we achieved this year is a welcome development, but we will not stop until we achieve zero firework-related injuries and ensure that the next holidays will be safer for every Filipino,” Duque maintained.

The Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) also reported a positive figure as it noted that there were no fires caused by firecrackers during the New Year’s Eve festivities in the country yesterday.

Although 29 fire incidents were recorded from Dec. 31 to Jan. 1, BFP spokesperson Supt. Annalee Carbajal-Atienza said none of these were caused by firecrackers and other pyrotechnics.

During the New Year celebration in 2020, the BFP recorded 24 firecracker-related fires. –  Ric Sapnu, Emmanuel Tupas, Ramon Lazaro, Jen Ponsaran, Rhodina Villanueva, Eva Visperas


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