By Tracy Cabrera
MANILA — In support of the government’s call to avoid the use of firecrackers and other dangerous pyrotechnics as well as trumpets and whistles, public interest group EcoWaste Coalition said they believe breaking with the traditional New Year’s Eve merrymaking would be a good thing for the general public.
In a statement, EcoWaste campaigner Thony Dizon explained that aside from preventing spikes in air pollution and accidents nationwide, discontinuing such kind of celebration would significantly help in government’s efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
“People tend to congregate where firecracker use and fireworks are. That doesn’t promote social distancing,” Dizon pointed out.
He noted that people could still welcome the New Year with a bang through alternative and physically distanced activities, such as blowing horns and playing upbeat music.
He added that since social distancing, wearing of face masks and frequent washing of hands are the government’s basic health protocols against Covid-19, these should be strictly followed for the safety of Filipinos.
The government came up with such protocols to help mitigate the spread of the Covid-19 virus, which lurks in droplets expelled by infected persons through coughing, sneezing, and speaking.
The Department of Health (DoH) reported that PH now only has 21,980 active Covid-19 cases nationwide as of December 13 but health authorities are apprehensive the number could go up after the holidays.
EcoWaste had earlier proposed to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) a nationwide ban on the use of firecrackers and staging fireworks in welcoming 2021.
Firecracker use and fireworks displays endanger the environment and public health, EcoWaste said.
“Money for firecrackers and fireworks can otherwise be used for truly important purposes instead,” Dizon said, noting that it could be spent to provide necessities for victims of disasters, hazard pay for front-line workers, or seed capital for employees retrenched amid the onslaught of Covid-19.
EcoWaste said it is hopeful that government would eventually make the proposed ban permanent.
He, however, stressed that in view of the proposed total ban on fireworks, there is a need for government to help manufacturers of such paraphernalia shift to other businesses.
Dizon also reiterated that lighting firecrackers and fireworks emit air pollutants that weaken the immune system, raising people’s risk for respiratory ailments, such as Covid-19.
“Exposure to toxic pollutants emitted from the bursting of firecrackers and fireworks is dangerous to everyone, especially the elderly and people with underlying medical conditions, including those afflicted with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart problems, diabetes and other illnesses as they tend to develop more severe symptoms of Covid-19,” he said.