By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora

PEAK SEASON. Passengers queue up to board a provincial bus in Cubao, Quezon City on Holy Tuesday last year (April 4, 2023). All health and security agencies are on high alert every Lenten season due to the high volume of travelers. (PNA file photo by Joan Bondoc)

MANILA – The Department of Health (DOH) has raised “code white alert” for the Lenten season in anticipation of thousands traveling to provinces starting on Palm Sunday.

The DOH said Saturday the alert level would be active on March 24 to 31, placing identified medical personnel and staff on standby for the immediate acceptance and treatment of patients in hospitals.

A code white alert is declared during national events, holidays, or celebrations that can potentially cause mass casualty incidents or emergencies.

Through its Health Emergency Management Bureau (HEMB), the DOH said it continues to conduct active monitoring.

All Centers for Health Development in regions are also coordinating with their respective Regional or Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Offices, especially in tourist attractions and religious areas.

“The DOH family joins all Filipino families in the solemn and healthy observance of Holy Week 2024,” Health Secretary Teodoro Herbosa said. “Following instructions of President (Ferdinand R.) Marcos (Jr.), hospitals are now on Code White Alert, always ready to care for patients in the event of any medical crisis. Let us pray and hope for continued safety and health for the country.”

Among the DOH reminders during Lent are:

•    Drink plenty of clean water to prevent dehydration;
•    Avoid prolonged exposure to heat to minimize the effects of high temperature, such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke;
•    Be aware of emerging diseases during the dry season, such as sore eyes, prickly heat (bungang araw) rash, cough and colds, skin diseases, and vector-borne diseases like dengue; and
•    Always supervise children while swimming and during other water activities.

In a separate statement, the DOH urged motorists to be more patient and to drive safely as road crashes become more common during the Holy Week. Offering more reminders, it said:

•    Ensure vehicles are well maintained and checked regularly, especially before long trips;
•    Make sure the driver is well rested;
•    Avoid drinking alcohol, especially before and during driving;
•    Focus on the road and avoid distractions, such as using your cellphone while driving;
•    Obey traffic rules; and
•    Take short breaks at regular intervals during long drives, and drink clean water regularly.

For urgent reports, the DOH HEMB-OpCen may be reached via mobile numbers 0917-8059756 or 0917-8619528, landline number (02) 8651-7800 local 2206/2207, or email

Patronize accredited business

Meanwhile, the Department of Tourism (DOT) advised all travelers to ensure they patronize accredited enterprises.

It said a travel firm or accommodation establishments accredited by the DOT are guaranteed to be compliant with the minimum standards for quality operation of tourism facilities and services.

“Travelers needing accommodation, tours, transportation, and other tourism-related services are strongly advised to patronize DOT-accredited tourism enterprises,” it said Saturday.

“The public is advised to stay updated on travel-related news and safety guidelines from credible sources, and to be cautious of unsolicited messages or offers, particularly from anonymous sources or unverified social media platforms or accounts, to avoid falling victim to scams targeting tourists, such as fake accommodation, travel tickets, vacation deals, among others.”

For the nationwide list of accredited hotels, travel agencies, tour operators, and other tourism enterprises, the public may visit

For guidance and assistance on general tourism inquiries, travel complaints, and other emergencies, the DOT Tourist Assistance Call Center will be open to the public 24/7 via hotline number 151-TOUR (8687), mobile number 0995-8355155, and the following platforms: e-mail address; Facebook messenger at; or web chat at and