Pediatric groups thumb down plan to allow kids in malls

Pia Ranada

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Pediatric groups thumb down plan to allow kids in malls

NO GO. Most malls in the country are airconditioned, increasing the risk of virus transmission, say experts.

Photo by Dante Diosina Jr/Rappler

Malls pose a risk to children because they are enclosed spaces with poor ventilation, say the Philippine Pediatric Society and Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines

The Philippine Pediatric Society and the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines has rejected plans to allow children to enter malls, saying the risk of catching COVID-19 in such places outweigh any benefit.

“It is strongly recommended by pediatrics for children to remain at home to minimize the risk of getting infected and lower viral transmission,” said the PPS and PIDSP in a joint statement.

Their position was read out during a virtual press conference held on Wednesday, December 2.

“The risk of acquiring COVID-19 both by children and other household members far outweigh the benefits of bringing children to shopping malls to celebrate the holiday season,” said the two groups.

PPS President Joselyn Eusebio pointed out the conditions that make shopping malls in particular, a dangerous place for children.

“A mall is enclosed so there is no proper ventilation so I think the chances of you getting the virus is greater,” she said.

PDSP President Mary Ann Bunyi said it is more advisable to let children play in the open air where there is better air circulation.

“Most of our malls are airconditioned so the recommendation is to do activities in open air. We are not saying there is 100% no transmission of the virus but it’s going to remarkably reduce viral transmission if we’re outside,” she said in a mix of English and Filipino.

The mayors of Metro Manila had said they would await the advice of PPS and PIDSP before deciding to allow minors inside malls. This comes after Interior Secretary Eduardo Año first spoke of the plan during a meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday, November 30.

Malacañang had defended the proposal, saying it was necessary to further revive the country’s virus-hit economy.

Safer for teens to go to malls

While the pediatricians’ advise covers persons aged 0 to 19 years old because of the definition of pediatrics, Eusebio relented when asked if even adolescents should be barred from entering malls.

“To be upfront and honest about it, if an adolescent at 15 years old is capable of practicing the safety measures then I’m sure that is their (government’s) basis and it can also be our basis for allowing them to go out in the malls,” she said.

One major reason why the doctors discourage young kids from being allowed inside malls is their inability to follow health protocols to keep away COVID-19.

For instance, it is not safe for children below two years old to wear masks because of the “danger of them getting suffocated,” said Bunyi.

Meanwhile, young kids are difficult to control when they want to run or play inside a mall, making total supervision close to impossible.

“Just imagine that kind of scenario. I really don’t think we can be very successful in preventing them from getting exposed and getting infected,” said Eusebio.

Follow minimum health standards

The doctors outlined ways parents and guardians can protect their children when bringing them outside of the house:

  • Ensure the area has good air circulation
  • Observe physical distancing
  • Always wear a face mask or face shield
  • Limit duration of interactions to 30 minutes or less


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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is Rappler’s Community Lead, in charge of linking our journalism with communities for impact.