MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – Health officials reported 350 fireworks-related injuries as the country welcomed 2017, 60% lower than the 5-year everage from 2011 to 2015.
Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial said in a news conference on Sunday, January 1, that the number of injuries was as of 6 am of the first day of the year. (READ: New Year shooting, firecracker injuries mar PH celebrations)
“This is lower than the 5-year average of 2011-2015 and lower than in the previous year,” Ubial said.
She said that of the 350 cases reported by the Deparment of Health’s 50 sentinel sites all over the country, 348 were caused by firecrackers and fireworks, while the other two involved cases of fireworks ingestion.
The piccolo, an illegal firework, continued to be leading cause of firecracker-related injuries, accounting for 38% of the cases. Kwitis came in next as 20% of the injuries were caused by the legal firework.
Luces and fountain accounted for 5% of the cases, respectively.
The fireworks and firecrackers surveillance of the DOH began on December 21 and will end on January 5.
Most victims children
Ubial said that a majority of the victims or 58% of the cases are below 15 years old. The victims are aged 2 to 71 years old, and the median age is 13, she added.
Most of the cases – 211 or 60% of the total as of January 1 morning – were reported in the National Capital Region.
In Metro Manila, 28% of the cases were from Manila, 23% were from Quezon City, and 11% from Marikina.
Ubial also cited the “very sad” case of a 15-year-old girl from Malabon who was hit by a “stray bullet” while watching fireworks display at 11:45 pm on Saturday, December 31. (READ: 15-year-old ‘stray bullet’ victim needs miracle, prayers – DOH)
The patient, confined at the Jose Reyes Medical Center in Manila, is currently in a “deep coma,” aided by a ventilator. She could not be operated on, since the bullet is lodged deep in her head.
No injuries, deaths in Davao City
In a media statement, Mayor Sarah Duterte said Davao City, where President Rodrigo Duterte comes from, registered zero firecracker-related injuries and death as residents celebrated the New Year.
“Davao is a proof that celebrations are possible even without firecrackers and pyrotechnic materials that could cause harm to us and to our children,” said Sarah Duterte, the daughter of the President, in a media statement.
She said the Davao City Police Office and the Task Force Davao strictly implemented the ban against the use of firecrackers in the city. Sarah Duterte also thanked her constituents for cooperating with the authorities.
Duterte had banned the sale of firecrackers in Davao City when he was still mayor in 2001. The city council also passed an ordinance prohibited firecrackers in Davao City in 2002.
‘Fear of Duterte’
Ubial said fears that President Rodrigo Duterte would harshly punish revelers who celebrate the New Year with firecrackers caused a “remarkable” decline in injuries.
Ubial said injuries during this year’s revelry, which would be collated until January 5, were the lowest in 10 years after Duterte said he was considering repeating a ban on firecrackers which he implemented when mayor of his southern home town of Davao.
“People are now afraid to light firecrackers because of the President. They have this impression that somehow they will get caught or they will be punished,” Ubial said.
On January 1, 2016, the Department of Health reported a 53% drop in fireworks-related injuries in 2015 compared to 2014.
Last year, the DOH recorded a total of 932 firecracker-related injuries between December 21, 2015 and January 5, 2016. There was also one death due to massive injuries from an exploding Goodbye Philippines.
The DOH is expected to give updates on the total number of injuries related to the New Year’s Eve revelry until January 5.
The department has proposed to President Rodrigo Duterte an executive order (EO) that would limit the use and possession of firecrackers or pyrotechnic devices in the country, but this has been put on hold until 2017. – with a report from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com