Pediatric groups reject move to allow kids in malls

Published December 2, 2020, 9:07 PM

by Analou de Vera

Allowing children in shopping malls may lead to another surge in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases.

Two pediatric organizations issued the warning in the wake of plans to allow children in mall establishments amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is strongly recommended by pediatricians for children to remain at home to minimize the risk of getting infected and lower viral transmission,” the Philippine Pediatric Society (PPS) and the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines (PIDSP) said in a joint statement.

“The risk of acquiring COVID-19 both by children and other household members far outweigh the benefits of bringing children to shopping malls to celebrate the holiday season,” they added.

Dr. Bambi Kasala, a member of PPS, said children are “susceptible” to COVID-19.

“Why are we allowing or even asking if they can go to the malls when we won’t even allow our children back to school?” Kasala asked during an online forum on Wednesday.

PPS President Jocelyn Eusebio underscored that if ever this plan pushes through, children will be more prone to exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19.

“Kung bata ang pinag-uusapan sa palagay niyo ba pagdating sa malls kaya niyong alagaan yung mga bata – nagtatakbuhan sila doon, nagkukumpol-kumpol kung saan nila gusto pumunta? Napakahirap i-monitor (As far as children are concerned, can they be controlled in the malls – where they run around and mingle together? It’s very difficult to monitor). So, you just imagine that kind of scenario – with that I don’t think we can really be successful in preventing them to be exposed and get infected,” she said.

PIDSP President Mary Ann Bunyi expressed concern that this plan could lead to a surge in cases.

“Our main objective here is to protect the children. Remember, we are in a downhill trend of COVID-19 cases which we are seeing right now. So we’d like this to continuously go down and we don’t want upsurge again of cases,” she said.

Kasala said that if parents will bring their children outside of the house, they should ensure that they would follow the health protocols.

“If parents are insisting on bringing their children to the malls, then it is their responsibility to make sure that they do preventive measures and nasa discretion na nila (it’s their own discretion) – the risk of going to the mall is far really greater than just the benefits of spending time with the parents,” she said.