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Filipinos' rush to resume 'malling' worries the country's pediatricians

Updated: Dec 6, 2021

By Jinky Jorgio

Manila— For Filipinos, "malling" is a way of life. Hence their rush to take trips to the shopping malls the day after the Philippine government eased the Covid-lockdown in the country last month.

Parents excitedly brought along their children, including infants and toddlers--much to the consternation of the country's pediatricians.

It’s too soon to bring down their guards, according to pediatricians. With the emergence of omicron variant, children remain at risk of infection, they said.

The Philippines has three of the world's 10 largest shopping centers, two of them in the capital city of Manila. Although over 40 percent of the country's population live on $2 or less per day, malls were crowded at all times during the pre-pandemic years.

Hence the rush to return to a semblance of normalcy and resume their lifestyle when President Rodrigo Duterte lifted the lockdown.

Not too fast, the country's pedicatrians warned.

"Please refrain from bringing your unvaccinated kids to the mall. There will be a lot of time to go to the mall. Always take care of your kids,” Dr. Dr Tricia Biag-Santos, a pediatrician and fellow at the Philippine Pediatric Society, wrote in her Facebook post.

A government pediatrician was alarmed by the scenes at the country's malls, where children roamed freely, exposed to the threat of Covid-19.

Although adults may have been vaccinated, they are still prone to the Covid-19 and children are equally vulnerable, according to the government pediatrician, who requested not to be named.

Months prior to lifting of the lockdown, the Philippines reported a daily average of 3,000 Covid-related hospitalizations. Around 2 million Filipinos have been infected by Covid-19 since the pandemic broke out last year.

The government pediatrician acknoweledged that it's a welcome respite to see children happily roaming the streets again after almost two years of being locked behind their doors.

However, she warned that the battle against the pandemic is not over and the Philippine health care system is not fully equipped to handle the crisis.

The pediatrician is currently treating a 2-year-old-boy, who got exposed to the coronavirus following the family’s trip to the mall.


“When the children get infected, they will be isolated in ICU. No matter how much parents beg, they won’t get to see their children. They'’ll regret it in the end,” she said. “Once the Covid is over, you may even live in the mall if you want.”

The rate of infections in the Philippines remains high despite the government's boast that the daily infection count has been contained below the five digits. Currently, daily postive cases average between 1,0000 and 2,000.

The Philippines' vaccination rate is below 50 percent of the country’s population of 110 million.

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