End of year parties: PGH lists ways to make them COVID-19 free

November 30, 2021 - 2:59 PM
COVID-19 Christmas
It's nearly the Christmas season in Year 2 of the COVID-19 pandemic. (maximeutopix via Unsplash)

Christmas and end-of-year parties are now being planned after nearly two long years of social distancing, but the COVID-19 scare is not yet over.

The Philippine General Hospital, one of the premier healthcare facilities caring for coronavirus patients, has recommendations from its Hospital Infection Control Unit for those organizing long-awaited reunions to keep them virus-safe.

Dermatologist Winlove Mojica, MD shared a summary and copies of these guidelines on Twitter.

“PGH Guide para sa mga gustong mag party [or] yearend events. Pwedeng i-apply sa mga kumpanya, opisina, at family gatherings,” Mojica said.

PGH-HICU still prefers that social gatherings remain virtual. But should face-to-face programs be conducted, it stressed the importance of maintaining good air circulation in venues.

“Face-to-face programs will be allowed if these are held in rooms where the doors and windows can be opened to maintain good air circulation and simulate the air exchange of an open-air setup,” PGH-HICU said.

All participants in activities such as games, singing, Christmas caroling should also wear face masks properly at all times.

PGH-HICU also suggested monitoring the number of individuals who will be attending these events.

“If the indoor setup is preferred, the exact number of individuals who will be allowed in these activities will be dictated by the duration of activities, the use of air purifiers and High Efficiency Particularly Air (HEPA) filters,” it said.

“A carbon dioxide (CO2) monitor should be used to show that good air quality is maintained at a level of less than 800 ppm. CO2 monitors are available at the HICU and Occupational Safety Committee,” it added.

For planning activities with food, PGH-HICU noted that all forms of Christmas buffets and banquets are “discouraged.”

Instead, it is preferred to have packed meals even in outdoor venues.

Screenshot of PGH-HICU guidelines for parties with food on November 30, 2021

Mojica also summed up via his tweet the safety measures the unit suggested when dining together:

“Best sa open air. Wag buffet style. Iwasan ang pila. Staggered ang pagkain. Physical distancing pa rin,” he said.

Similar to past activities, group photos and photoshoots may also be done in areas in open-air setups, and not in enclosed spaces.

Screenshot of PGH-HICU guidelines for parties with photoshoots on November 30, 2021

The hospital further noted the importance of physical distancing and providing a shorter time to be in close contact with one another in group shots.

“The time period allowed where the participants are in close formation (next to each other less than one meter apart) combined with the removal of the mask should not exceed 10 minutes,” it said.

The hospital also highly recommends that participants should have received their COVID-19 shots.

Metro Manila and most parts of the country are placed under Alert Level 2 from December 1 until December 15.

Only the province of Apayao remains under Alert Level 3.

These were the latest guidelines amid the threat of the new COVID-19 variant called Omicron.

So far, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) have already issued travel restrictions on affected countries except Hong Kong.

RELATED: Doctors counter potential return of face shield policy with these suggestions (philstar.com)