The Department of Health (DOH) stood firm in its position against allowing children aged 14 years old and below, as well as the elderly aged 66 and above to go outside due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), according to Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said Wednesday.

Duque made this reaction after the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) allowed children seven to 14 years old to go to malls as long as they are accompanied by their guardians.

The DILG’s recommendation is yet to be clarified by respective local government units (LGUs) nationwide.

“Ang posisyon namin, hindi po nagbabago. We discourage that kasi meron pa ring risk,” Duque said at an online forum.

“Sa siyam na buwan na karanasan natin sa Covid-19, three to five percent po ng total infected cases natin ay sa mga bata nangyari. Hindi po sila exempted sa hawaan,” Duque added.

Persons aged 15 to 65 are now allowed to go outside for essential needs and work-related concerns. 

However, DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said there’s no final decision yet if minors will be allowed inside malls. Metro Manila mayors are seeking the guidance of the Philippine Pediatrics Society and the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines first before deciding. 

Duque also reiterated that the health department is not banning Christmas celebrations but only limiting it to immediate families.

“Hindi po ipinagbabawal ng DOH ang holiday celebration. Gusto lang po natin ito limitahan sa immediate family members. Hindi na po muna [kasali ang] mga kamag-anak na galing sa ibang lugar,” Duque said.

“Kasi sa siyam na buwan na may pandemya, ang nakakahawa po ay iyong mga walang sintomas o kung meron man, mild lang,” Duque added. RJ Espartinez