QC gov’t bans public gatherings during fiestas, other community events

Robie de Guzman   •   January 14, 2021   •   157

MANILA, Philippines Public gatherings and other community celebrations will be prohibited in Quezon City, the local government announced.

In a memorandum dated Jan. 12, Mayor Joy Belmonte said the move aims to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in anticipation of upcoming fiestas, religious events, and cultural festivals traditionally held in many barangays in the city this month.

“Unless regulated, these celebrations could lead to mass gatherings and encourage the spread of the COVID-19 virus,” Belmonte said.

“Isakripisyo muna natin ang mga nakaugalian tuwing may ganitong pagdiriwang para na rin sa ating kaligtasan,” she added.

In her order, Belmonte prohibited the conduct of processions, parades, Santacruzan and other crowd-drawing activities and events like fairs, perya, variety shows, fireworks displays, ati-atihan or other public performances.

Public games and contests, such as pageants, singing or band contests, bingo, pabitin, paluan ng palayok, agawan, or tug of war are also banned.

Public buffets and boodle fights, and public drinking, including drinking outdoors or on sidewalks, and group contact sports such as basketball are also not allowed.

“Persons may only drink at home or inside restaurants or establishments, subject to health protocols,” Belmonte said.

Also banned are group videoke or other celebratory gatherings that violate social distancing, noise pollution or other noise nuisances due to excessive merrymaking, comingling of multiple households through large parties or traditional “open door” fiesta celebrations; and any other non-essential or non-work gatherings.

On the other hand, modest celebrations conducted within the home, among immediate family or close acquaintances are allowed, subject to social distancing and other applicable health protocols.

Also, masses, other religious solemnities, religious or traditional rituals for the purpose of blessing a building or establishment may continue, subject to strict health protocols such the wearing of face mask, face shields and social distancing.

Celebrations conducted primarily for an online audience, with very limited physical attendance are also allowed.

As for the coming celebration of Chinese New Year, Belmonte said the conduct of Dragon Dance or Lion Dance activities shall be allowed provided that the same shall be held in a designated area only, like the stage of a mall, with the audience seated and socially distanced, with mask and face shield.

Violators may be penalized under Republic Act No. 11332 or the Notifiable Diseases Act, various city ordinances and other pertinent laws, the city government said.

The city’s law and order cluster, regulatory departments, barangays, and the Quezon City Police District are ordered to strictly enforce the memorandum, it added.

DFA logs 3 new recoveries from COVID-19 among overseas Filipinos

Marje Pelayo   •   January 25, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Sunday (January 24) reported three new recoveries from coronavirus disease (COVID-19) among Filipinos abroad.

This brings a total of 8,820 Filipinos already recovered from the disease outside of the country.

To date, the number of Filipinos abroad who tested positive for the virus is at 13,779 while the number of fatalities remain at 945, mostly recorded in the Americas.

Meanwhile, a total of 4,017 Filipinos are still undergoing treatment in different health facilities around the world, majority of them are in the Middle East and Africa.

The DFA said it remains fully committed to monitoring the situation of overseas Filipinos who are affected by the pandemic and remains steadfast in promoting and protecting their welfare.

Non-compliance with minimum health standards is like choosing to become transmission agent — Duque

Maris Federez   •   January 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III on Saturday (January 23) emphasized that breaches in compliance with the minimum public health standards are the primary driver of infection and mutation of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“What may seem as a minor breach in the protocol or a misstep in our masking and coughing etiquettes can lead to a spike in cases. The next time we place our masks below our chins, raise our face shields above our heads, or the next time we go out and mingle just because we can without fear of consequences, we are choosing to become an agent of transmission,” the health chief said.

Duque made the statement during the virtual press conference announcing the detection of 16 additional cases of the UK variant of the deadly disease in the country.

The health official called on the public to continue doing the preventive measures – and doing them properly – as these seemingly insignificant actions may spell the difference in the lives of other people down the chain of infection.

Duque underscored that the actions of each and everyone can save the lives of people by preventing transmission.

“It is the little things that can stop the spread of disease–the proper wearing of a mask and face shield may be uncomfortable at times, but enduring a little discomfort can save lives,” he said.

Meanwhile, the country has recorded 1,797 new COVID-19 cases, as of 4pm, January 23, bringing the total number of active cases to 33,603.

The department also noted 166 recoveries and 54 fatalities, tallying total recoveries to 467,886 and deaths to 10,190. — /mbmf

UK Covid-19 variant may be more deadly —British PM

Maris Federez   •   January 23, 2021

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned that the UK variant of the coronavirus disease may not just be more infectious but could also be more deadly.

“We have now learned that, in addition to spreading more quickly, the new variant of the virus may also be associated with a higher degree of mortality,” the prime minister said.

With this development, Johnson urged the public to be more cautious and avoid unnecessary travels or going out.

“It is therefore more important than ever that we all remain vigilant in following the rules and that we stay at home, protect the NHS and thereby save lives,” he added.

According to UK Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance, research shows that the number of fatalities caused by the new variant is higher than that of the original strain.

“If you took… a man in their 60s, the average risk is that for 1,000 people who got infected, roughly 10 would be expected to unfortunately die with the virus. With the new variant, for 1,000 people infected, roughly 13 or 14 people might be expected to die,” said Vallance.

Vallance and Johnson, however, assured that the vaccine they use against the new COVID-19 variant is effective in fighting the virus.

“Both the vaccines we’re currently using remain effective both against the old variant and this new variant,” Johnson said. —/mbmf

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