Face masks, shields off once 50M get shots, says gov’t task force adviser
If Filipinos want to end the inconvenience of wearing face shields and masks, about 50 million of them must first be fully inoculated against the coronavirus, meaning about half of the Philippine population should have received two doses of the vaccine against COVID-19.
Dr. Ted Herbosa, adviser to the National Task Force Against COVID-19 (NTF), said Filipinos still have a long way to go before they could get rid of those face coverings because only 3 million had been fully vaccinated as of Thursday.
“The target to advise the removal of the face mask and face shield is 50 percent of the target population, which is about 50 million, between 40 to 50 million,” Herbosa said at Thursday’s Laging Handa briefing.
Meanwhile, everyone has to continue complying with the prescribed health protocols, such as frequent handwashing and avoiding crowded places, Herbosa said.
It was unclear whether the 50-million mark was set by the NTF or the country’s pandemic managers as an official target.
One good news is that more than 12 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered since March when the national vaccination campaign was rolled out, according to Malacañang.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said 9.4 million had received their first dose and 3.09 million have received their second shot.
The vaccination drive has slowed down due to delays in the vaccine shipments from abroad, he said.
Roque said the country was expected to receive this week 1.12 million AstraZeneca doses donated by the Japanese government, another 2.028 million doses of the same vaccine from the COVAX facility, and 170,000 of Sputnik V doses procured by the government.
Herbosa said only about 29 percent of 9.8 million senior citizens had received their first dose.
He said there was high hesitancy among senior citizens to get vaccinated. The older folks argue that they would rather have the jabs administered to younger members of the community, he said.
But this was a wrong position to take as senior citizens were more likely to be hospitalized and die if they get infected with the coronavirus, said Herbosa, a disaster medicine and emergency medical care specialist.
“The right thing is to prioritize you [the senior citizens] in administering the vaccines before the youth. So, [it’s] very important to protect your lives. This is what is called disease containment,” he said.
If the elderly are vaccinated, their infection would only result in mild symptoms and would likely not lead to death, Herbosa said.
As millions of Filipinos wait for their turn to get vaccinated, the coronavirus continues to spread.
Over 5K new cases
On Thursday, 5,484 new COVID-19 cases were recorded by the Department of Health (DOH), bringing the national caseload to 1,455,585.
The DOH said 3,925 had recovered from the severe respiratory disease but 191 had died. As a result the number of COVID-19 survivors rose to 1,380,899 and the death toll climbed to 25,650.
The deaths and recoveries left 49,036 active cases. Of the total, 90.9 percent are mild cases, 3.7 percent asymptomatic, 1.5 percent critical, 2.2 percent severe and 1.62 moderate.
The DOH said it removed nine duplicate cases from the total case count. It also reclassified 152 cases previously tagged as recoveries as deaths after validation. —WITH A REPORT FROM PATRICIA DENISE M. CHIU
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