Stop COVID-19 surge this Christmas – DILG

Published December 14, 2020, 12:04 PM

by Chito Chavez

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) appealed to the public on Monday to exercise self-discipline as the relaxed quarantine protocols this Christmas has resulted in a slight rise in the reproduction rate of COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila based on the report of the OCTA Research team.


The OCTA Research Team reported that the reproduction rate of COVID-19 in Metro Manila  has increased and may now be above one.

The reproduction number is the expected number of new infections an infected individual may cause in a population where everyone is susceptible with the figure lower than one meaning a flattened curve.

If the trend continues, the OCTA research team said COVID-19 cases in the country may reach more or less 500,000 by the end of the year.

DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya, in an interview with GMA News, said it is impossible for authorities to enforce health protocols round-the-clock with the steady rise in the number of individuals now out on the streets.

He said the DILG has never been negligent in its duty as discipline brigades routinely roam the barangays to remind the people to “exercise individual discipline and responsibility’’ in a bid to prevent the spike of the virus.

For New Year revelries and the traditional  use of “torotot’’ (horn) and whistles to usher in the new year, Malaya said that it should be done within the confines of their own homes and “as usual, may social distancing (there should be social distancing).’’

As an added precaution, health authorities also discouraged the sharing of  “torotot” and whistles even among the members of the household.

The Department of Health (DOH) has opposed the use of “torotot” in public saying that it produces aerosols that may transmit COVID-19.

Be quiet when eating

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque, meanwhile, urged diners to stay “quiet” during meals and save the conversation before and after eating while wearing their masks and shields for protection.

The latest appeal from the Palace came after authorities monitored a slight increase in COVID cases in some parts of the country amid the onset of the holiday season.

“Now that we are celebrating and businesses are open, let’s continue to take precautions. Although we can go to restaurants allowed to as much as 70 percent, let’s reduce talking while eating because transmission may happen when we remove our face mask and shield to eat,” Roque said during a Palace press briefing aired on State television.

“If possible, let’s gossip after eating. We can gossip while walking in the mall or while waiting for the food. But when the food arrives, let’s stay quiet. While we celebrate, we might end up falling sick,” he added.

Roque said the public must continue to observe health protocols such as wearing of masks, frequent washing of hands, and one-meter distancing from others, especially during the holiday celebration to prevent the COVID transmission. He said people must bear with these precautions while waiting for the arrival of the coronavirus vaccine in the country, which is expected to be next year.

“You might end up in the hospital if not this Christmas, in the New Year. Let’s hope not. To have a merry Christmas, let’s take precautions,” he said. (With a report from Genalyn D. Kabiling)