Press Release/7 April 2017 Manila, Philippines – The Department of Health joins the nation in the observance of Holy Week and strongly reminds the public to bring bottled water to avoid heat stroke and severe exhaustion as they do the rounds of Visita Iglesia.“Make sure to always bring bottled water, packed foods and umbrella as you visit churches,” Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial reminded the public. She added that by doing these simple tips, one can avoid diseases common during summer. While it has now become a tourist attraction in other areas to witness penitents being nailed on the cross, Ubial cautioned penitents to sterilize the nails and other sharp objects that will be used during flagellation. Tetanus can easily be contracted with the use of unsterilized or rusty nails. People with high blood pressure and other diseases that can be aggravated by severe heat and too much sun exposure are advised to stay at home, especially between 10AM to 3PM, when the temperature is at its peak. Another tip is not to bring small children or babies (if it can be avoided) in crowded places to prevent them from contracting diseases, as babies have lowered resistance against infections compared to adult/teens. For those traveling during the Holy Week, it is best to bring medicines along with other necessities as a safety precaution. Of course, check the road worthiness also of your vehicle. Secretary Ubial further stated, “The public is cautioned as well against other emerging summer diseases including sore eyes, sipon at ubo, sakit sa balat and sakmal ng aso.” Sore eyes or conjunctivitis often leads to blindness, if not given proper treatment. It can easily develop due to harmful bacteria or viruses that easily transfer from one to person to another. The spread of eye infection can actually be prevented through frequent and correct handwashing. Sipon at ubo easily spread during summer because the weather may turn erratic causing sudden downpour from time to time. Senior citizens are advised to get their flu vaccine shots against influenza before the onset of the flu season, usually in June. Sakit sa balat typically occurs in areas where water supply is scarce which compromises daily bathing. Prison inmates usually suffer from boils due to heat and overcrowding. Swimming in dirty water or unmaintained public swimming pools can also cause skin diseases. Do not forget to take a bath before plunging into the pool and avoid urinating in it. Children should be accompanied by adults in pool or beaches to avoid drowning which poses the real danger in swimming. Sakmal ng aso can cause rabies infection if improperly washed and cared for. Pet dogs should be given vaccination against rabies. But if one sustains dog bites, the wound must be immediately cleaned with soap and water. “We must remember that Holy Week is a time for solemnity. It can also be fun if it is disease-free and stress-free,” the Secretary concluded.