DOH probes text blast on outdoor Christmas parties, warns vs COVID-19 spread

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 27 2020 03:45 PM

MANILA — The Department of Health on Friday said it did not approve a text blast advising people to have outdoor Christmas parties instead as restrictions against COVID-19 continue. 

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said she also received the text from a telecommunications network, which advises people to open windows and fans if gathering for Christmas. 

Government earlier discouraged Christmas gatherings, warning against the persistent threat of the coronavirus. 

“But when we verified with the office in charge of this, hindi pa kami nagpapalabas (we have not released it yet),” she said.

“So we are now trying to investigate kung saan po galing at sino ang nag-umpisa makapaglabas nito (So we are now trying to investigate where this came from and who released it first). Because as I’ve said, DOH has not officially released this message yet because we wanted to further study it because it might cause confusion with our public,” the official added.

Watch more on iWantTFC  Video courtesy of DOH

Netizens reported receiving different variations of the text stating that the DICT (Department of Information and Communications Technology), DOH and HPAAC (Health Professionals Alliance Against COVID-19) are recommending people to open windows and use electric fans if they have a Christmas party. 

It also said having an outdoor venue is a better option.

The public advisory was sent via the telecoms firm's official SMS line and the text line of the National Telecommunications Commission. 

“We always want to emphasize, we are recommending alternative activities during this holiday season so that we can prevent further infection,” Vergeire said. 

“We all know that these Christmas parties might be a cause for a superspreader event and we do not want for that to happen because it might cause further infections in the community.”

“That is why we are recommending in our department circular these alternative holiday activities so that we can prevent more infections,” Vergeire said.

While the DOH in the past explained that open ventilation and outdoor venues reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19, the agency said Filipinos should opt to just attend mass and shop online. This, after photos of a crowded Divisoria, a popular bargain shopping district in Manila, went viral last week.