THE country registered the biggest reduction in the number of firecracker-related injuries this holiday season, down 68 percent from the previous year, the Health Department reported Monday.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said there were 191 firecracker-related injuries recorded this year from Dec. 21, 2017 to Jan. 1, 2018, 77 percent lower than the five-year average, and 68 percent lower than the cases reported in the same period last year.
There was only one injury from a stray bullet, he added.
“I would say we are relatively pleased–relative because there are still injuries but pleased because of the substantial reduction in fireworks-related injuries from Dec. 21, 2017, to Jan.1, 2018, compared to the same period of the previous year,” Duque said.
Duque said there were no reported deaths, no reported cases of fireworks ingestion, but still seven cases of amputation.
He said the youngest victim of firecrackers was an 11-month-old baby and the oldest was 96 years old. Most of the cases were hand injuries.
Piccolo, an illegal matchstick-sized firecracker, still accounts for the most number of injuries with 94 cases, followed by kwitis with 14, unknown firecrackers with 12, fountain with 10, and boga with nine.
In the same media briefing, PNP Supt. Johnny Capalos said they listed only one stray bullet case in Caloocan City.
Records showed that Metro Manila had the most number of fireworks-related injuries, which amounted to 115 cases or 60 percent of the total number, followed by Western Visayas with 15 cases and Central Luzon, Calabarzon and Bicol with 13 cases each.
Among the districts in Metro Manila, the city of Manila had the most number of cases at 63 followed by Quezon City with 14, Pasig City with 11 and Valenzuela with six.
Duque said an executive order signed by President Rodrigo Duterte that banned private citizens from using firecrackers was behind the drop in firecracker-related injuries.
Duque thanked Department of the Interior and Local Government, Bureau of Fire Protection, Philippine National Police, EcoWaste Coalition, among other partners, for their cooperation in restricting the use of firecrackers.
Assistant Secretary Eric Tayag reminded parents to watch over their children to prevent them from picking up dud firecrackers left by New Year’s Eve revelers.
In an interview on Unang Balita, he noted the case of a seven-year-old who had his hand blown off by a firecracker, which he picked up thinking it was a dud.
A 13-year-old boy was also injured in the right eye when he lit a piccolo that he also picked up in Noveleta, Cavite.
Traditionally raucous New Year festivities draw on ancient superstitions and Chinese traditions, with people firing guns and setting off powerful fireworks in the belief the bangs will drive away bad spirits.
Asked how to further minimize injuries, Duque said: “I think the end goal really is to ban fireworks completely.”
The President’s June order stated that firecrackers may only be used in areas approved by local governments and under the supervision of trained and licensed people.
Duterte in 2016 said firecracker-related injuries were a “very serious public health issue,” adding he was concerned about children, who make up most of the victims.
As Davao mayor, he signed in 2002 an ordinance that banned the manufacture, sale, distribution, possession and use of firecrackers in the city.
Duterte’s spokesman said on Monday that the President might consider adopting a total firecracker ban nationwide.
“He might but there may be a need to amend the law,” Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said.
Roque welcomed the change in Filipinos’ mindset, saying it was possible to celebrate the New Year without firecrackers.
“There is no need for your fingers or hands to be amputated, or for you to lose an eye just to be happy in welcoming the New Year,” he said in Filipino in a radio interview.
The island barangay of Calmay in Dagupan City accounted for 13 percent of all injuries when 25 people, including 12 children, were hurt when baby rockets also known as kwitis misfired during a community fireworks display.
All the injured were transported by boat across the Calmay river and then taken by ambulances of the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council to the Region 1 Medical Center for treatment.
Twenty-four of the injured were admitted to R1MC as out-patients and one was hospitalized after doctors found blood coming out from one of his ears.
All those injured were to watch a fireworks display in their village when the baby rocket bombs failed to go up in the air but instead fired horizontally, hitting the crowd.
Before this incident, two others were treated for firecracker eye-related injuries at R1MC.
Before noon of Monday, the number of firecracker victims rushed to R1MC was placed at 40 coming from various parts of Pangasinan.
Ten victims—either blast, burns, and amputation—were brought to the same hospital from midnight to 7 a.m. of New Year’s Day. With AFP,PNA
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