COMING out of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic, the Department of Health (DOH) has reported an increase in fireworks-related injuries across the country, totaling 231 cases.
In a virtual press briefing, Health Secretary Teodoro Herbosa said that there were 94 more FWRIs in welcoming 2024 compared to the 137 total cases to usher 2023.
"Our overall total for now is 231, as of 6 a.m. The numbers may still change as many people slept before going to the emergency rooms... But I can tell you, the number is higher than last year," said Herbosa.
The health chief attributed the higher number of cases to the absence of health restrictions, which were in place from 2020 to 2022.
"It is the first New Year without any restrictions on movement due to the pandemic, wherein only community fireworks displays were allowed. This time, people started using firecrackers again. So, the cases went up," said Herbosa.
Of the injured cases, the DOH said there were 11 victims that required amputation.
Nearly half of the total cases came from the National Capital Region (NCR) with 113 (49% percent); followed by Central Luzon (27, 12 percent) and Ilocos Region (24, 10 percent).
It said 95 percent of the incidents happened at home and in the streets, mostly by males with active involvement in the use of firecrackers.
The health department said legal fireworks caused more injuries among revelers (56 percent); while illegal firecrackers caused 44 percent of the cases.
Identified firecrackers that caused the most injuries are kwitis, 5-star, boga, piccolo, whistle bomb, pla-pla, luces, fountain and triangle.
New Year's Eve revelry
During the peak period of December 31, 2023 to January 1, 2024, the DOH said there were a total of 116 new FWRIs.
"It is sad for those injured to start 2024 with bandages or have their body parts amputated," said Herbosa.
Included in the new cases are the youngest and the oldest victims of fireworks for the current surveillance year.
According to the DOH, an 11-month-old male baby from the National Capital Region had his face and right eye burned by the illegal piccolo lit by someone else on the street.
On the other hand, a 76-year-old male from the Ilocos Region had injured his right eye sustained from a Kwitis that he lit at home.
Community fireworks display
In order to avoid FWRIs from increasing further in the coming years, the health chief said it is imperative to continue promoting community fireworks display activities on New Year's Eve.
He said such practice is observed in other countries, thus making their people safer from FWRIs.
"We must continously develop community fireworks display so that our people can enjoy sans any dangers. We must promote this practice," said Herbosa.
He, however, admitted that changing the Filipino culture of personally lighting firecrackers on December 31 would be difficult.
"That's part of our culture, to light firecrackers during New Year. It won't be that simple to change that," said Herbosa. (HDT/SunStar Philippines)