As Christmas nears, the Department of Health on Wednesday reminded the public of the risk COVID-19 as Filipinos return home and families reunite for the holidays.
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According to DOH Director Dr. Beverly Lorraine Ho, there is a lower risk for families and friends living together in the same household.
Those who live in separate households are recommended to hold virtual gatherings and buy presents online.
There is a moderate risk for small outdoor gatherings, Ho added. Social distancing must be observed, along with safety protocols.
Indoor gatherings of a large group of people should be avoided. Activities such as shouting, singing, and physical contact pose a high risk for spreading the virus and are discouraged.
Shopping in crowded markets, tiangges, Christmas bazaars, and malls is considered high risk and should be avoided.
When asked about kids being allowed to go malling, in a virtual briefing Ho said "They're not as vulnerable as the adults. Magkakaroon ng question dun kung sinong kasama nila kung lalabas sila. Pero sino yung kasama nila?"
(There is the questiong of who is accompanying them when they go out. Who are they with?)
She added that it is best "If it's equally healthy young adults that will take them out."
Online masses are also advised.
There is a higher risk of attending in-person religious activities held indoors or in enclosed spaces with the number of participants exceeding the recommended limit.
Returning Filipino workers
Ho acknowledged the number of Filipinos returning home to their families, either coming from other provinces or from abroad.
Guidelines have been put in place, and Ho said we have better testing capactity now compared to the situation back in May.
"Quarantining will be stricter. In the past they can just get their swab test and go home. Now, it's really required that they finish a certain number of days in quarantine before they can go home," she said.
It's also important to monitor which people constantly move and are going home for Christmas, such as soldiers.