Press Release | 9 November 2020

As the Christmas holiday approaches and quarantine restrictions lighten in different parts of the country, the Department of Health (DOH) cautioned the public against holding and attending in-person gatherings and different kinds of celebrations which may increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

In DOH’s weekly kapihan with the media held on November 5, DOH revisited specific risk factors that contribute to the spread of the disease and called on the public to continue complying with the standard health protocols that protect them from infection.

“Let us limit the number of people in social gatherings and activities, preferably to people within the same household. Avoid activities that require travel to areas with higher quarantine classification and keep activities as short as possible,” Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque said.

In order to begin economic recovery, the government has recently begun allowing certain businesses and establishments to resume operations. Minors are also now allowed to engage in certain activities outside their houses which can be related to schoolwork, play time, and shopping but preferably with parental oversight.

What concerns the DOH is the crowding that happens in events attended by numerous people especially during the holiday season. The more these individuals interact and the longer the interaction lasts, the higher their risk of contracting COVID-19. Large in-person gatherings where it is difficult to maintain physical distancing of one-meter are considered high risk.

“Iyong mga usual activities natin during the holidays tulad ng parties or karaoke increase our risk of contracting COVID. According to a study done by Alsved, et. al., iyong malakas na pagkanta natin increases our viral particle spread by 448% compared to normal talking,” Sec. Duque cautioned.

“Ito mismo ang rason kung bakit hangga’t maaari, kailangan iwasan muna natin itong mga ganitong aktibidad. Ang pangunahing prayoridad dapat natin ngayong kapaskuhan ay ang kalusugan at kaligatasan natin at ating mga mahal sa buhay,” he stressed.

He also advised that gatherings should be kept to a small group of people, should be held in a properly ventilated room or venue, and participants should maintain at least a distance of one meter or three feet when interacting with others.

Sec. Duque also highlighted other risk factors which include poor ventilations, close and frequent contact with other individuals, increased duration of said contacts, and the inability to use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

The DOH’s BIDA Solusyon Campaign likewise encourages the public to observe minimum public health standards in order to mitigate these identified risks: “B - Bawal walang mask; I - I-sanitize ang mga kamay. D - Dumistansya ng isang metro; and A - alamin ang totoong impormasyon.”