FILIPINOS are an extremely social bunch. With fiestas, reunions, grand weddings, and the like, it is not surprising that despite the Covid-19 pandemic, Filipinos have continued to gather.
However, it is these kinds of gatherings that are becoming the culprit of the increasing number of Covid-19 cases in Davao Region.
From October 1 to 17, the Department of Health in Davao Region (DOH-Davao) reported 910 new Covid-19 cases. Bulk of these cases are local cases. This led to a drastic increase in the active cases in the region in the first two weeks of October.
"Kasi nakikita po namin na tumataas ang cases, based on contact investigation ay yung mga gatherings... yung mga workplace and lalong-lalo na sa mga gatherings na events after work (based on our contact investigation, we saw a surge of cases in workplaces, and other mass gatherings right after work)," DOH-Davao Assistant Director Lenny Joy Rivera said.
She added, "Doon po namin nakikita na marami nagkakahawaan sa birthday party, sa mga wedding, mga special occasions (we saw a wide transmission of cases on birthday parties, weddings, and other special occasions)."
However, based on existing guidelines, mass gatherings are actually discouraged to prevent the transmission of Covid-19.
On April 17, Davao City Mayor Sata Z. Duterte-Carpio issued Executive Order (EO) No. 25, which declares a period of mourning and vigilance in Davao City until December 31, 2020.
In general, the EO discourages grand celebrations in Davao City. If there are any celebrations or gatherings that will be held, it should be "no more than 25 guests."
Rivera said they had recorded a certain case where a Covid-19 patient was able to have a close contact with 27 partygoers and 18 of them tested positive as the result.
It is at these parties where families and friends have a tendency to let their guards down. Some would not wear a mask, no social distancing, and everyone is confined in a small space.
Therefore, it is important for Dabawenyos to avoid holding or attending parties as much as possible. If it cannot be avoided, they should strictly observe health safety protocols.
It is also important that those attending be thoughtful and sensitive to where they will be going. This means that they have to assess themselves properly in terms of their health or where they have been to.
Organizers must also ensure that those who are on the guestlists are the only ones who will be attending. For family gatherings, they must also keep track of those who attended the gathering.
Since the government only sets the guidelines for gatherings, it falls upon the organizers or the families to properly self-regulate.
“Dapat mahinumduman ug masabtan sa mga tao na makuha nimo siya, ang kanang virus, or dali ka matakdan kung magtapok ang mga tao. Kana lang ang dapat nilang mahinumduman pirmi. Any activity or event or gathering nga magtapok ang mga tao, unya naay isa dinha nga naay Covid-19, naa gyud matakdan. Kung asa ang daghan tao, didto ka matakdan (People have to understand that when you gather, it is easy for you to get the virus. If there are any gatherings and someone happens to be a Covid-19 patient, there will be someone who will be infected)," Duterte-Carpio said.