LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – With just 11 days to go before Christmas, the provincial government has appealed to residents to cancel family reunions and other gatherings to curb the spike in coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases.
“We would like to appeal to all residents of the province to abide by the prohibition in the conduct of traditional Christmas carols, parties, clan reunions, and all other crowd-drawing Christmas events,” Governor Melchor Diclas said in an advisory Sunday.
Diclas’ appeal came after the Provincial Inter-Agency Task Force (PIATF) on Covid-19 meeting where all 13 municipal mayors in the province and different departments of the provincial government agreed to restrict the movement of people to control the spread of Covid-19.
Families and clans in Benguet hold their traditional reunions in December when all or most of the members are on break or in town for a vacation.
These reunions are held with drinking of “tapuey” (rice wine) and butchering of several animals that they all partake.
It usually has the beating of the gongs and dancing of the traditional dances in thanksgiving for the year that was, which is attended by scores of people from the youngest to the oldest member of the family or clan.
Diclas also ordered the police in the province to arrest persons who are drunk, as a deterrent to non-observance of the health protocols.
Benguet has been tagged by the University of the Philippines OCTA Research as among the provinces nationwide with a high prevalence of Covid-19 cases, classifying it as among the high risk areas due to the number of cases recorded.
As of Sunday, there are 582 active Covid-19 cases in the province out of a total of 2,618 Covid-19 cases recorded since March.
Most of the active cases were recorded in the highly populated and more urbanized towns of Mankayan, 332; La Trinidad, 151; Tuba, 46 and Itogon, 31.
The other towns, however, remain to have less than five active cases.
During the PIATF meeting, Itogon Mayor Victorio Palangdan asked that each town come up with its own border control and restrictions to be able to manage the further spread of the disease.
His request came based on the town’s experience where the spike in cases at the different mining areas were immediately contained after a hard lockdown that compelled residents to stay home.
The town of Tuba, another mining town, also had its share of surge in cases.
Currently, the town of Mankayan, also a mining town, is experiencing a spike in cases involving miners and their families while the Capital town La Trinidad continues to record several cases on a daily basis.
Benguet officials also appealed to residents to limit their travels to work and accessing goods and essential services.
They also urged residents to strictly observe health protocols such as wearing face masks and physical distancing in markets, groceries, and other public places. (PNA)