Filipinos brace for Christmas sans parties
Manila: Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, Filipinos are bracing for a party-less Christmas as the government has moved to to retain strict virus-induced lockdown measures until the end of the year.
Authorities have said that imposing the restrictions, which include a ban on Christmas parties, are necessary to keep a surge in the cases in check, Xinhua news agency reported on Sunday.
Christmas is marked by big celebrations in the Philippines, where around 80 per cent of the population are Catholic.
Traditional masses, family gatherings, and endless parties are held during the season that kicks off as early as September.
Christmas trimmings and blinking lights pop up in malls, the streets, and the parks.
Radio stations also start to play Christmas carols and festive hits in the run-up to Christmas Day.
But the Christmas season is different this year.
Due to fear of transmission, malls are allowed to operate at a limited capacity.
The Philippines has been put on varying degrees of lockdown since mid-March.
Faced with new realities of working from home, temporary unemployment, home-schooling of children, and lack of physical contact with other family members, friends, and colleagues, the Department of Health (DOH) has urged people to look after their mental, as well as physical health.
According to a survey which was presented by DOH National Mental Health Program in a recent online press briefing, at least 3.6 million Filipinos are suffering from some form of mental, neurological, and substance use disorders.
Health authorities have advised people to continue to refine, learn, and adjust to the “new normal” because Covid-19 will likely be around for the foreseeable future.
“People feel restless; people feel anxious. They are irritable. They have social withdrawal; there is a loss of motivation because of reduced productivity. These are the signs that we are seeing now,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said.
She said people need to develop “a healthy coping mechanism while in isolation”.
The Philippines has so far reported 365,799 confirmed Covid-19 cases, with 312,691 recoveries and 6,915 deaths.