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Leachon: Go party this Christmas, but keep safe, wear a mask

by Leila Salaverria

IT’S time for holiday gatherings and reunions once more, and one thing party goers shouldn’t forget to bring to these events is their face mask.

This was according to Dr. Anthony “Tony” Leachon, a physician and health reform advocate who advised the public to continue to be cautious when they go out to celebrate and spend time with loved ones. 

Though the use of face masks is now optional in most settings because of the President’s Executive Order No.7, Leachon said Filipinos wouldn’t want to risk getting infected because of a number of reasons.

One is that they would not be able to fully enjoy the holidays if they get sick, he said. 

“We can’t enjoy kung may sakit tayo kasi mag a-isolate ka,” he said in an interview with republicasia. 

Another reason is they could infect their housemates and loved ones, and this would put a damper on their party plans as well. 

Getting infected would also mean missing work, which would be a big deal for those who are paid on a daily basis, he said. 

“You have to declare, ethically, legally, and morally, that you have COVID. So you would have to stay at home and you would be unproductive,” he said.

The fourth reason is that they could have long COVID syndrome, which means they would still be able to feel the symptoms for a prolonged period.

“It may be prolonged, mga three months na hinihingal ka. So ayaw mo rin magkaroon ng COVID. Yung quality of life mo magsa-suffer,” he said.

More cases expected

Leachon said he expects COVID-19 cases to surge because of the new Omicron BQ.1 sub-variant, which is more transmissible and highly immune-evasive compared to other sub-variants.

But he said the increase in cases is not expected to overwhelm hospitals because the Philippines is in a better position now. Many already have vaccine immunity and natural immunity because of the Omicron variant, which caused an increase in cases last year, he explained. 

And based on the experience in the US, the BQ.1 variant is not expected to cause severe cases, he said.  

The ones who get severe symptoms are the unvaccinated and those who have comorbidities, he said.  

But he also said the country’s vaccination rate is not enough for the Philippines to be considered resilient, as only 20 million have received booster shots. He urged people to make sure that they would get booster doses.

No objections 

Leachon said he doesn’t expect Filipinos to resist the advice to keep wearing their masks. 

He still sees a lot of people who keep their masks on indoors and outdoors, and only remove these when eating or taking photos, he said. 

“I think they’ve embraced this,” he said. “If we want to celebrate Christmas, then I think we need to do this, protecting ourselves, given that the variant is unpredictable and our booster is not yet complete.”



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