As much as it is a family affair, Christmas is also a season for giving gifts. And with the persistent threat of COVID-19, one question that comes to mind is: how to safely give gifts during the pandemic?
Filipinos should first keep in mind that the virus is mainly transmitted through droplets and aerosols, and not through objects such as gifts, said Dr. Anna Ong-Lim, former president of the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines.
"The way that the virus gets into your system is not through the object but through your hands. The reminder really is to be very aware of our hand hygiene," Ong-Lim told reportr.
Is there a thing such as "safe gifts" to give during the pandemic? Dr. Ong-Lim said what's more important is the manner by which one gives and receives presents.
When giving or receiving gifts, it's important to ensure that one's hands are clean before touching the mouth, nose, and face to avoid catching the virus.
"Any time you touch your mouth, your face, your nose, you want to be able to say that 'my hands are clean.' So wherever that came from, whether handing a gift, I wouldn't touch my face, my nose, my mouth without washing my hands first or using alcohol," Ong-Lim said.
How does one safely hand over a present? By still observing the minimum health standards, Dr. Ong-Lim explained, noting that people can opt to drop off presents instead of personally handing them out.
"Puwede mo naman siguro idaan, puwede naman kayo mag-usap preferably in an outdoor setting para mas maganda ang ventilation at may physical distancing," she said.
And while gift-giving has long been part of the Filipino Christmas tradition, Dr. Ong-Lim said doing so or deciding not to during the COVID-19 pandemic is a personal decision.
"In the end, you have to ask yourself if the activity is essential for you, and if you can risk catching COVID-19 because of it," she said.