Christmas parties, caroling banned in Metro Manila
MANILA, Philippines — Caroling and office Christmas parties will not be allowed in Metro Manila this holiday season, Parañaque City Mayor Edwin Olivarez said on Monday.
In a radio interview, Olivarez, head of the Metro Manila Council, said the mayors discussed the ban during their meeting on Sunday night.
The mayors, he said, decided to recommend to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to keep Metro Manila under general community quarantine up to the end of the year to prevent a rise in new coronavirus infections during the Christmas season. (See related story on this page.)“We talked about the suspension of caroling. Caroling will not be allowed, as well as Christmas parties,” Olivarez said.
He said the ban on Christmas parties would be for both public and private offices.
Attendance in public gatherings will remain limited to 10 people, he added.
The Department of Health (DOH) and the medical community on Monday appealed to the people to drop plans to visit family and friends ahead of the holidays, warning that because the coronavirus has an incubation period of 14 days, there is a possibility of a spike in new infections during Christmas week.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III urged the public to limit celebrations to immediate family members.
“Please do not invite other relatives who would come from other places because we can’t be sure if they are free from COVID-19. For [Filipinos overseas], there are various videoconferencing platforms [that they can use],” Duque said at a news briefing.
The Healthcare Professionals Alliance Against COVID-19 made a similar appeal, saying people attending large indoor gatherings where there is poor ventilation are at higher risk of catching the virus.
But if it cannot be helped, Dr. Antonio Dans of the alliance said those who will get together should opt for outdoor venues where air circulates better, and observe the 1-meter distancing rule and wear mask and face shields.
Ideally, he said, interaction should be less than 30 minutes.
People using public transport should carefully plan their trips to avoid the rush hour, as well as being packed with other commuters for a longer period, Dans said.
The alliance also advised the public to shop and hear Mass online.
Increase in transmission
Earlier, World Health Organization health emergencies program chief Mike Ryan said that after Canada held its Thanksgiving celebration in October, it saw an increase in coronavirus transmission.
“We don’t want that to happen to our country, which is why we are already coming out with these reminders. Let us remember that we would not immediately see the effects of our gatherings,” Dr. Anna Ong-Lim, a member of the alliance and president of the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines, said on Monday. “We may see the effects around Christmas. We are trying to avoid a surge [in infections] during that period.”
Current evidence shows that SARS-CoV-2, the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19, has an incubation period of one to 12.5 days.
A study conducted by Dans and other researchers on 5,000 workers in July found that for every 100 people, 4 percent were infected but were asymptomatic or had mild symptoms.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said on Monday the guidelines were not intended to suppress the celebration of Christmas, traditionally the most festive in the country.
“Nobody is saying that the celebration of Christmas should stop. We are just reminding that there are other options to celebrate this important occasion, because we know that we [Filipinos] want to celebrate it with everybody we love,” Vergeire said.
“But for the upcoming Christmas, let us try to be selfless. Let us remember that COVID-19 remains a threat. Everything that we do can affect others,” she added.
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