Children shouldn't be 'locked inside houses' but crowded areas not OK - DOH

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 25 2021 04:00 PM

Kids pose for photos with
Kids pose for photos with "Santa Claus" at a mall in Taytay, Rizal on Sunday. ABS-CBN News

But DOH says children should not be 'locked inside houses'

MANILA— The Department of Health (DOH) on Thursday reiterated that minors and members of the vulnerable sector should not be brought to crowded areas because this defeats the intention of an eased quarantine. 

This comes with the looming recommendation of the pandemic inter-agency task force (IATF) on minors' restrictions, after reports this month that toddlers as young as 2 years old test positive for COVID-19. 

On Nov. 12, a pediatric physician said she admitted a one-year-old patient with bronchopneumonia, a possible complication of COVID-19, after being brought to a public market. 

The doctor lamented that the mom appeared "proud," saying she had gone out with the baby for a while.

But Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the objectives of the IATF in allowing children to go outdoors is to socialize, get sunlight, and to be able to exercise. 

"Ang objective natin noong pinalabas natin ang mga bata was because, first we would like for them to interact with other children, for them to get exercise outside of their homes, and for them to get adequate sunlight which is needed for their health," Vergeire explained in a public briefing.

(The objective for allowing them to go out is for them to get exercise, sunlight, interact with other children.) 

"Hindi po kasama sa objective ng IATF na palabasin ang mga bata at dalhin natin sa matataong lugar," she added.

(It is not the objective of the IATF to let children be brought to crowded places.)

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

Fairs, "peryas," or kids' amusement areas such as playgrounds, playroom, and kiddie rides were also allowed to operate under the looser quarantine level.

While DOH earlier described the case of the 2-year-old as an "isolated" one, local authorities argued that there should be an age limit for minors who go to malls, which are enclosed areas.

Vergeire, however, emphasized that children should no longer be cooped up in their homes, and that establishments and parents should "find a way" to protect them amid the threat of COVID-19. 

"Our position, we should not limit or restrict again our children of being locked inside our houses. Tayo po ang gumawa ng paraan. Unang-una, ang mga local governments or private establishments, let us enforce what is stated in the protocols of our IATF," she said. 

(We should make a way. First, local governments and private establishments should enforce the guidelines of the IATF.)

"Ang magulang, pag nakita na po nating masikip, walang physical [distancing], huwag na po tayo tumuloy kung kasama natin ang ating mga anak." 

(When the parent notices that there is no physical distancing in the establishment, we should no longer go to that place.)

ABS-CBN News is seeking the response of Malacañang on the matter. 

OCTA fellow Dr. Guido David last week noted that COVID-19 cases spiked among the youth after the UK opened up and eased their restrictions.

The Philippines has allowed the return of limited in-person primary classes in more than 100 schools nationwide, which is why the expert pointed out the importance of health protocols. 

"I think this is something that we want to bring to the table and this is for 10 to 14 years old. And earlier it was mentioned there's a concern about you know, children unvaccinated getting infected... that will also include children in the discussion," Guido had said. 

The Philippines has started the vaccination of minors aged 12 to 17 this month. The said sector numbers around 12.7 million. 

The DOH on Wednesday recorded the lowest number of active COVID-19 cases this year (17,864) and announced 890 new daily infections. 

— with reports from Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

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