Health experts: Defer travel plans, limit Christmas gatherings to household members

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 30) — Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and a team of experts are suggesting ways to safely celebrate the most wonderful time of the year despite the pandemic.

The OCTA Research Team said the best option is to cancel all social gatherings during the Christmas season.

"We also appeal to our citizens to avoid not just crowded and enclosed areas but also to refrain from joining or organizing social gatherings this Christmas season," the OCTA Research Team said in report released on Monday.

But if it cannot be helped, the research team said family gatherings should be limited to household members, with a limited size and held outdoors with good ventilation. It said evidence showed that "social mixing" among households led to the second wave of COVID-19 infections in Europe and North America.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III issued a similar appeal.

"Yung pagdiriwang, dapat limitado na sa immediate family members, at sa mga tahanan na lamang ang pagdiriwang," he said in a media forum. "Huwag nang mag-imbita ng mga kamag-anak na galing kung saan-saan."

[Translation: Celebrations should be limited to immediate family members and held in their homes. Do not invite other relatives who come from different places.]

He also reminded the public to avoid meeting up with family members returning from overseas. He also advised them to defer plans to travel and visit their loved ones in the province.

"Ipagpaliban po ninyo ang inyong kagustuhan na pumunta sa probinsya dahil mas maigi na ang department circular na in-issue ng DOH, malinaw kung ano ang low-risk activities na dapat gawin," the health chief said.

[Translation: Defer your plans to go to the province. It's better to follow the department order issued by the DOH on low-risk activities you can do.]

OCTA urged the government to strictly enforce the mass gathering restriction that only allows 10 people per event in areas under general community quarantine.

The country's COVID-19 case count jumped to 429,864 on Sunday. The research group projects that infections in the country may reach 470,000 to 485,000 cases by year-end.