By Liza Agoot

SAFER NEW YEAR REVELRIES. Department of Health OIC Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire says in a press conference in Baguio City on Sunday (Jan. 1, 2023) that they recorded a 15 percent drop in firecracker-related injuries across the country from Dec. 20 to the morning of Jan. 1. She attributed the decrease to the cooperation of the people and local government units which opted to conduct community fireworks displays. (PNA photo by Liza T. Agoot)

BAGUIO CITY – Department of Health (DOH) officer-in-charge Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire on Sunday said they recorded a nationwide decrease in firecracker-related injuries as the country welcomed the New Year compared to the same period in 2022.

“There is a 15 percent decrease in cases recorded in all regions as of this morning,” Vergeire said during a press conference at the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center (BGHMC) grounds after making the rounds of the facility’s trauma unit and non-Covid-19 emergency room.

The BGHMC, the biggest tertiary government medical facility in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), is one of the 61 sentinel hospitals being monitored for firecracker-related injuries across the country.

As of the morning of Jan. 1, the DOH has recorded a total of 137 firecracker-related injuries reported by the sentinel hospitals since the start of the monitoring on Dec. 20.

Vergeire said 85 of the cases occurred from Dec. 31 to the morning of Jan. 1.

The decrease is attributed to the local government units’ (LGU) implementation of regulations and ordinances related to the use and sale of firecrackers and pyrotechnics, she noted.

Vergeire added that the cooperation of the people in avoiding the use of firecrackers and pyrotechnics as well as the conduct of community fireworks displays likewise contributed to the decline in injuries.

The official said aside from CAR, the other regions that recorded a drop in firecracker injuries are Ilocos, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Western Visayas and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

However, she said they are expecting additional cases until their monitoring ends on Jan. 6.

Vergeire urged the public to avoid picking up and using unlighted firecrackers and pyrotechnics.

She assured that hospitals would continue to be prepared in case more persons would seek medical help.

“Even with the slightest injury, and nobody in the house is capable of managing it, have them checked at a medical facility,” Vergeire said. (PNA)