President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Wednesday, December 16, once again appealed to the public to obey health standards during holiday celebrations to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) while the government prepares the country’s healthcare system for the possible uptick in the number of infections.“Christmas time is about a few days from now. Sundin lang natin ‘yung culture. But remember the word ‘but’, but there are rules to be followed at this time of our national life,” President Duterte said during a public address and meeting with officials on government’s COVID-19 response.
While the country celebrates Christmas and New Year, President Duterte said citizens should still follow the minimum health standards such as social distancing, frequent handwashing, and wearing of masks to protect themselves and their families from the highly contagious coronavirus.
“So kayong mga mag-asawa, kayong mga may mga anak: Be careful. If your spouse got it and you do not know, you sleep together, and both of you get infected, then that’s the end of the story of your life. Ang sama ang ending. Ang akin diyan ‘yung mga bata,” he said.
“I’ll repeat: Please continue to obey the protocol,” he stressed. “Kayong mga kababayan ko, sumunod ho kayo sa mga patakaran ng gobyerno. Para sa inyong lahat ito. Kaunting tiis na lang. Nandiyan na ang bakuna.”
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, who was also present during the meeting, said the Department of Health (DOH) continues to scale up the country’s healthcare capacities in preparation for a possible increase in the number of COVID-19 cases during the holiday season.
Duque said the country’s One Hospital Command Center and other health facilities, under the leadership of Health Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega, are working to increase hospital utilization rates by providing more beds and mechanical ventilators.
Duque added that they have coordinated with laboratories conducting COVID-19 tests to continue operating during the holidays.
The Philippines is currently negotiating with pharmaceutical companies producing COVID-19 vaccines and mass inoculation could begin in March next year, according to vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr.
The country has 452,988 confirmed COVID-19 cases after the DOH reported 1,156 additional cases on Wednesday.
The total death toll is at 8,833, while recoveries stand at 419,282. Of the total number of cases, 24,873 are active. PND