Minors in low-risk virus areas may be allowed outside homes: experts

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 02 2020 08:41 AM | Updated as of Dec 02 2020 08:55 AM

People have their pictures taken with the cargo vessel that ran aground on the seawall of SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City on November 21, 2020. The vessel ran aground last November 12 after Typhoon Ulysses brought strong winds and waves to the city, and has become a tourist attraction for mall goers basking under the sunny weather. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Minors in areas with low-risk of virus transmission may be allowed to go outside their homes, doctors and scientists said Wednesday.

Children below 8 years old who cannot wear masks properly should not be allowed outside, according to Dr. Edsel Salvana, a member of health department's technical advisory group.

"Alam naman natin ang mga bata hindi naman talaga sila nakakagamit ng masks nang maayos at mild ang symptoms nila bagamat pwede siyang mapasa kung may matatanda sa bahay at merong chronic illnesses," he told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo.

(We know children cannot really properly wear masks and they have mild symptoms but can transmit if there are elderly people at home or those who have chronic illnesses.)

"Pwede po talaga magsurge dahil sa mga superspreader na mga bata."

(There can be a surge because of superspreader children.)

He added that the level of community spread should be considered.

"In places like Batanes, Ilocos, mas maganda po siguro kung (it's better if they do) open air activities rather than a mall," he said.

Allowing children to go outside may contribute to overcrowding, according to Guido David, a member of OCTA Research Group.

"We know from science na 'yung (that) overcrowding is one of the triggers for community transmission. Gusto nating iwasan 'yan (We want to avoid that)," he said.

"Nasa implementation 'yan. Kunyari sa low-risk areas, wala namang masyadong problema dun. Sa mga epicenters ngayon, like NCR and Davao di natin alam paano maiimplement 'yun nang maayos."

(It depends on the implementation. In low-risk areas, there's not much problem. In epicenters like NCR and Davao, we don't know how this can be implemented well.)

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Children are more likely to contract the virus than transmit it, according to Dr. Anna Ong Lim, member of the health department's technical advisory group and former president of the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines.

They will however contribute to crowds when allowed to go outside, Lim added.

"Kung lumalabas ka bilang nagtatrabaho tinatanggap natin as risk kasi s'yempre kabuhayan natin 'yan," she told Teleradyo in a separate interview.

(If you go outside for work we accept that risk because it's for our livelihood.)

"Pero kung lalabas tayo para mamasyal tapos i-expose natin 'yung sarili natin at ating mga anak sa risk na mahawa, iuwi natin to sa bahay natin na meron tayong elderly na kasama. You would have to think very hard kung sulit ba ang exposure na 'yun."

(But if you go outside to take a walk and you expose yourself and your children and go home to elderly people, you would have to think very hard if the exposure is worth it.)

When asked about quarantine fatigue among children, Lim said they are "very resilient."

"As long as their home environment is nurturing. Baka nga mas maganda pa ang adaptation nila kesa sa atin," she said.

(They might even have a better adaptation than us.)

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Manila Mayor Isko Moreno said the city council was studying the proposal to allow minors in malls following national government's announcement Monday.

A local ordinance is needed to enforce the recommendation to allow minors outside their homes, the Joint Task Force COVID Shield earlier said.