Child positive for COVID-19 after mall visit an isolated case: DOH

Wena Cos, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 15 2021 01:53 PM | Updated as of Nov 15 2021 03:59 PM

MANILA - The 2-year-old child who tested positive for COVID-19 after going to the mall is an isolated case, the Department of Health said Monday.

"Nagpapaalala lang kami na maraming factors that can contribute sa pagkakasakit ng bata. We cannot definitely be certain na galing sa mall 'yan, dahil maraming pwedeng maging exposure ang bata," Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a Teleradyo interview Monday. 

("We are reminding the public that there can be any number of factors and points of exposure for children, we cannot definitely be certain that the child got the virus from his visit at the mall.")

This comes after a doctor on November 10 shared on social media having diagnosed a two-year-old child with COVID-19 after going to the mall on November 9. 

The isolated case should not be interpreted as a need to restrict children from going outside, Vergeire said, but clarified that local government units have the authority to implement restrictions as they find necessary in their respective areas. 

She reminded parents and guardians to be cautious, and to refrain from bringing with them their children to crowded areas, especially since children five years old and below are not required to wear masks. 

The Department of Health does not require masks in the said age range, because masks may restrict air flow and breathing. Children of this age may not yet be able to communicate that they have a hard time breathing.

Vergeire said minors and children are now allowed to go outside under the looser Alert Level 2 for their physical and mental health. "So they can exercise, get sunlight, and interact with other children, but not for them to be brought to crowded areas." 

She maintained that minimum health protocols need to be strictly followed in public spaces, even and especially as the pilot implementation of face-to-face classes roll out today. 

Vergeire discouraged the use of plastic sheet barriers in classroom settings, as they were not proven to prevent infection in other settings such as public utility jeepneys, where the plastic sheets tend to get blown by breeze and wind into the faces of passengers, but advised that acrylic barriers may be more effective.

The DOH however, understands the limited resourced of schools, and advised to maintain other minimum health protocols such as limiting the number of pupils who attend the face to face set-up.

The capital region's 13 million people shifted to Alert 2 from Alert 3 last November 4, allowing more businesses to reopen and easing restrictions on going out. 

The Department of Education pushed for limited in-person classes as it acknowledged the limitations of remote learning, such as teachers’ and students’ difficulty in accessing gadgets and stable internet connection.

Based on the DepEd’s timeline, the pilot study will end on January 31. The expansion phase, under which more schools or grade levels will be allowed to hold in-person classes, is scheduled to start on March 7.