With rise in COVID-19 cases, DOH recommends surgical masks over cloth masks
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) is recommending the use of medical-grade surgical masks over cloth masks amid the current rise in COVID-19 cases in the country.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire on Wednesday said individuals should use surgical masks if available as these provide better protection against coronavirus transmission.
However, if individuals cannot afford to buy surgical masks, they can still use cloth masks.
Vergeire said this is based on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) interim recommendations in “high-risk settings” such as the rise in cases and the detection of more transmissible COVID-19 variants.
“Ang DOH ay nagrerekomenda na kung inyo namang kakayanin sa ating mga komunidad na magkaroon ng surgical mask for our community ‘yan ang gamitin natin para mas protektado tayo,” she said in an online townhall forum.
(The DOH is recommending that if an individual can afford it, they should use surgical masks so that we are better protected.)
“Ngayon kung hindi talaga kaya at hindi magkakaroon ng surgical mask na surgical ang ating kababayan sa komunidad, cloth mask is still recommended naman. Hindi naman natin sinasabi na hindi na pwedeng gamitin,” she added.
(If they cannot afford surgical masks, individuals can still use cloth masks. It’s still recommended. We’re not saying that it cannot be used anymore.)
Vergeire explained that medical-grade surgical masks have certain layers that allow them to filter various microorganisms, which cloth masks do not have.
Although cloth masks do not have filters, they can still prevent transmission with the mouth and the nose covered, she added.
“Kung kaya ninyo mag-surgical mask especially in those areas na matataas ang kaso let’s use surgical mask,” she said.
(If you can have surgical masks especially in areas with a high number of cases, let’s use surgical masks.)
“Kung hindi kakayanin ng komunidad, cloth mask can still give protection. Hindi natin yan tinatanggal sa equation,” she added.
(If the community cannot afford it, cloth masks can still give protection. We are not taking it out of the equation.)
“It’s just that kapag kayo ay mas capable of having surgical masks, it’s more recommended for our community for this time being,” Vergeire continued.
(It’s just that, if you are more capable of having surgical masks, it’s more recommended for our community for this time being.)
Dr. Anna Ong-Lim, a member of the DOH’s technical advisory group, reminded the public to use masks properly, meaning that their noses and mouths should always be covered.
She also proposed using double cloth masks if people cannot afford to have medical-grade surgical masks.
“Maigi pa rin na gumamit ng cloth mask kaysa walang mask. Pwede isipin kung talagang walang surgical mask, pwede rin double cloth mask,” she said in the same forum.
(It is still better to use cloth masks instead of not using masks at all. We can also use double cloth masks if we cannot really have surgical masks.)
This spike in cases prompted the government to reimpose strict lockdowns in high-risk areas in a bid to curb the spread of COVID-19, especially with the threat of the highly contagious COVID-19 Delta variant.
As of August 17, the Philippines has 1,765,675 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 105,787 active cases, 1,629,426 recoveries, and 30,462 deaths.