How do we celebrate the Holidays during a pandemic?
You might also be wondering about this as we gear up for the coming Holiday season. And while it might seem bleak considering the restrictions and safety protocols, health professionals are maintaining that it is still possible to enjoy the coming Holidays with our families.
Medical experts from the Healthcare Professionals Alliance Against COVID-19 (HPAAC) discussed this further during a virtual roundtable discussion last September 24. The event was graced by HPAAC members Dr. Aileen Espina, national director of the Philippine Academy of Family Physicians, Dr. Maria Carmela Agustin Kasala, chair, public relations engagement system services comm of the Philippine Pediatric Society, Dr. Anna Ong-Lim, chief of the Philippine General Hospital’s (PGH) Pediatric Infectious Disease Division, and Dr. Inday Dans, a pediatrician and epidemiologist from the PGH.
So if you do decide to have a family get-together this Christmas, here are a few tips to consider:
And plan well. Family gatherings during a pandemic are no small matter. The first thing to do is to check your local government’s guidelines on social events and ensure that you follow them. Try to keep it small and intimate and don’t invite the whole barangay.
Strictly follow health protocols.
This includes wearing face masks, face shields (except for kids under 2 years old) maintaining social distancing, and regular washing of hands. If you do decide to hold a gathering, you can also opt to do it in a large outdoor space where proper distancing can still be observed.
Consider setting other guidelines, such as:
- Arrange your get-together in such a way that those who belong in the same household are seated together or get their meals together. This is to minimize possible infection to other households.
- Emphasize to everyone the importance of monitoring their health 2 weeks before and after the event. Only those who did not experience any possible symptom (no coughs, colds, sore throat, fever, diarrhea, or muscle pains) 2 weeks before the event can attend. At the same time, ask your guests to notify you if they fall ill after the gathering.
- No buffets. Opt for set meals or even bento-type meals instead.
- Try to minimize physical contact as much as possible. This includes opting for activities or games that require minimal to no contact with other people.
Be creative with your Holiday traditions.
Granted, most of our Holiday traditions entail numerous reunions, dinners, and pasyals. And it is still possible to do these this year with a bit of creativity, such as:
- Virtual or drive-thru masses for Holiday masses such as Misa de Gallo and Simbang Gabi
- Online shopping instead of Holiday shopping
- Online banking or transfers instead of ang pao giving
- Video calls/parties instead of reunions (Remember, it’s also OK if you don’t feel safe enough to join get-together’s just yet 🙂)
- Send gifts via courier instead of meet-ups (you can consider sending essentials or other items that are useful at this time)
Aside from these tips, another important point from the roundtable discussion is the confirmation that kids can be possible asymptomatic carriers of the virus. Dr. Ong-Lim cited studies in the US which state that children can have significantly higher levels of the virus in their airways compared to adults. This means that even if there are fewer cases of COVID-19 in kids, families should still take the necessary precautions to ensure that family members who might be at a higher risk for the disease are still protected. Hence, we all must do our part in ensuring that everyone stays safe and healthy.
Ultimately, the HPAAC believes that it’s possible to enjoy the coming Christmas holidays in the new normal with everyone’s cooperation and participation.
Have fun planning for the Holidays, mamas!