While the government has loosened up quarantine restrictions, this does not mean that you should let your guard down. The Covid-19 virus is still in our midst and it is just a matter of time before Omicron, the latest variant of concern, finds its way to the Philippines.
With Christmas just around the corner, the Department of Health (DOH), in partnership with the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP), virtually launched recently the annual holiday campaign with the theme “Ligtas Christmas sa Healthy Pilipinas.”
The campaign aims to guide the public on easy and doable ways to safely celebrate the holiday season. This year, the campaign focuses on three main behaviors that will keep Filipinos healthy amidst the pandemic.
The public is reminded to:
1. Practice the minimum public health standards;
2. Choose the healthier options during feasts and similar activities, and
3. Prevent fireworks-related injuries and be prepared for accidents.
Health and safety
While there has been a decreasing number of Covid-19 cases in the country, Filipinos are advised not to let their guards down and prioritize the health and safety of their families by practicing the minimum public health standards.
“Patuloy nating isulong at obserbahan ang Bakuna – Airflow- Hugas – Iwas sa ating mga aktibidad ngayon kapaskuhan,” said Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III. [Let’s continue to promote and observe Vaccination – Airflow – Washing of the hands – Prevention in our activities during this holiday season.]
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the guidelines and protocols being pushed in the campaign by the DOH were recommended by experts. She reiterated though that added that so long as these protocols are followed, the risk of getting Covid-19 is low.
“We are confident that these protocols will work but once we learn more about the Omnicron variant, we will have to sit down and review these protocols once more. For now, these should be followed,” she said.
If companies do decide to hold “in-person” Christmas parties, Vergeire recommended that only those who are fully vaccinated should attend. The venue should be open-air, all should be wearing face masks and observing social distancing. Buffets are discouraged.
Aside from being safe, the DOH also underscored the importance of choosing healthier options during the festivities. This can be done through moderate food intake, consumption of well-balanced and nutrient-rich foods, avoiding alcohol, and cessation of cigarette smoking and vaping.
To prevent firework-related injuries, the public is reminded to use safer alternatives to firecrackers and pyrotechnic devices by participating in community fireworks displays and by using other noise and light-producing devices such as sound systems, light-emitting devices, percussion instruments, pans, tambourines, and bells.
During the virtual launch Supt. Warlito Daus of the DILG enjoined local government units across the country to implement the “Oplan: Iwas Paputok” campaign and to intensify the dissemination of information from their local government offices up to the community level.
The public was also advised to stay away from using firecrackers and pyrotechnic devices such as piccolo, watusi, Judas belt, Whistle bomb. Goodbye Earth, Super Lolo and atomic big triangulo. Guidelines were also issued on how to distinguish the legal from the illegal devices.
Supt. Analee Atienza of BFP reminded the public to aim for a fire-free holiday by knowing fire prevention and safety tips to prevent fire accidents and casualties. Thorny Dizon of EcoWaste Coalition pushed for the advocacy of safe toys for kids. He mentioned the importance of choosing and buying the right kind of toys to ensure the safety and health of children citing the requirements of RA 10620 or the Toy and Game Safety Labeling Act.
Despite the restrictions brought about by the pandemic, the DOH encourages the public to remain positive.
“Gayunpaman, kahit nasa gitna tayo ng pandemya, patuloy nating pinagtutunayan na walang matinding paghihirap ang makakasira sa diwa ng Pasko sa buhay ng bawat Pilipino,” said Director Beverly Ho of the Health Promotion Bureau. [However, even though we are in the midst of a pandemic, we continue to prove that no extreme hardship can destroy the spirit of Christmas in the lives of every Filipino.]