The Philippines has reported over 452,000 COVID-19 cases and is now one of the worst hit countries in Asia. Yet, just a few days ago, Canada, which has a population that’s only a third of the Philippines’, overtook us with over 475,000 cases.

The cause? Thanksgiving. COVID-19 cases have now surged in Canada, where hospitals are becoming overwhelmed despite its healthcare being among the best in the world.

With Christmas soon upon us, healthcare workers in the Philippines are now growing concerned that the same situation might occur in the Philippines, where nurses, doctors, and healthcare workers have been fighting this pandemic since March.

 

 

The Healthcare Professionals Alliance Against COVID-19 (HPAAC) is reminding Filipinos to stay home this holiday, and avoid going out even though restrictions are lifting. HPAAC was the same group of frontliners who requested for a “timeout” in August after hospitals throughout NCR reached full capacity, leading to MECQ being reinforced in Metro Manila.

According to HPAAC, by staying home, the Philippines could narrowly avoid a spike in COVID-19 cases during the holidays, a time when families unite with elders and other vulnerable persons present.

The Christmas cheer might be lifting the population’s spirits, but COVID-19 is still very much real. Infections are rising, says the alliance, and hospitals are reaching their limits again.

The government took action earlier this week to prevent a surge by requiring face shields to be worn everywhere in public when it used to only be required in malls and public transport.

A crowd of commuters along Ayala Avenue in Makati City on March 16, 2020, find it difficult to get a ride due to the implementation of social distancing on public transportation. Photo by Inoue Jaena/Rappler

As the holidays approach and so do the big crowds that will gather, the best Christmas gift you can give your family might be their health and safety by staying home and practicing the four-point guide recommended by the HPAAC: be conscious of air circulation, practice physical distancing by at least one meter or more, always wear your mask and face shield, and only spend thirty minutes or less interacting with others.