November 30, 2023

The Department of Health-Cordillera has reminded the public anew to continue observing the minimum health protocols as local government units are gearing for the full blast celebration of their festivals in the coming weeks amidst concerns of the Covid-19 XBB1.5 variant and other communicable diseases.
DOH-Cordillera Epidemiology Surveillance Unit Head Karen Lonogan said while enjoying the festivities, the public should not forget the basic health protocols to be safe not only from Covid-19, but also from other communicable diseases.
The DOH-CAR reported while Covid-19 cases have been steadily on the decline, there has been an increasing trend in non-Covid-19 cases.
Lonogan said the mass gathering spurred by the festival season will remain a risk factor for the spread of Covid-19 and other respiratory illnesses.
Massive crowds are also risk factors for communicable infections like measles and hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) cases, which have seen an increasing trend.
In 2022, the region recorded 1,319 HFMD cases, which was a 19-fold increase from the seven cases recorded in 2021.
Cases of measles, a vaccine preventable disease, also saw a 127 percent increase from the 33 cases in 2021 to 75 cases recorded in 2022.
Cases of influenza-like illnesses, whose symptoms are similar with that of the Covid-19, have also increased to 4,863 last year, which represented a 53 percent increase from the 3,170 cases recorded in 2021.
Lonogan said the public should continue practicing the minimum health protocols while participating in the upcoming festivities.
Foremost, she said wearing of masks and getting vaccinated, not only against Covid-19, but also against other communicable diseases will help mitigate the spread of infections.
“We need to continue observing the minimum health protocols, like wearing of masks, washing of hands, and observing cough etiquette. Complying with these will protect us and our loved ones from infections,” Lonogan said.
She said as LGUs are getting ready for the festival celebrations, there is also a need to adjust their health contingency plans.
After two years of subdued or no celebration, LGUs are holding their respective festivals in full blast this year, such as Baguio’s Panagbenga Festival set from Feb. 1 to March 5 and the Etag Festival in Sagada, Mountain Province, which will be held from Feb. 2 to 5.
Other festivals are the Strawberry Festival of La Trinidad, Benguet in March and Lang-ay Festival of Mountain Province in April.
Lonogan said the celebration of these festivities will not be a reason for concern if minimum health guidelines are adhered to. – Jane B. Cadalig