Christmas Parties Banned for Now as Fight vs COVID-19 Continues

Ready your Zoom parties.
Children walk past Christmas lanterns known locally as 'parol' on display along a street in Manila on Dec. 24, 2018.
Photo/s: Maria Tan/AFP

Christmas parties are prohibited for now, one of the Cabinet officials leading the fight against COVID-19 said Monday. This yuletide season will be celebrated virtually, like most 2020 holidays.

The Philippines is winning the fight against COVID-19, officials said, citing data. Infections in the epicenter, Metro Manila, are going down while authorities contain pocket outbreaks in the provinces, Cabinet chiefs reported to President Rodrigo Duterte.

"Bawal ho ang Christmas party. Hindi papayagan ang Christmas party habang ganito ang ating sitwasyon" said Interior Sec. Eduardo Ano, referring to physical gatherings. Pandemic health protocols require physical distancing, face masks and face shields.

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Ahead of the expiry of current quarantine restrictions at the end of October, officials allowed teens and senior citizens to run errands, a ban on foreign leisure travel was lifted and the maximum capacity of passengers in trains was increased. Curfews in the capital region were also shortened.

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"I'm happy to note, there's an in improvement in all aspects of the fight agaianst COVID," President Rodrigo Duterte said. "We are succeeding and everything, everybody is putting effort, sweat, dito sa trabaho."

Health Sec. Francisco Duque told the President that cases in Metro Manila are going down. On the national level, the country reported 2,638 new cases Monday, bringing the total to 359,169. Of the total, 11.75% are active, 310,303 recovered while 6,675 died, or around 1.9% of the total, Duque said.

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With the pandemic contained in the capital, officials are responding to requests for help in the provinces to contain outbreaks such as Bukidnon, Pangasinan, La Union, Tawi-Tawi
Nueva Ecija, Leyte and Negros Occidental, said Sec. Carlito Galvez, the chief implementer of the country's pandemic-fighting strategy.

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