Gov’t must enforce mandate for kids to mask up – OCTA
MANILA, Philippines — The OCTA Research Group urged the government on Tuesday to strictly enforce the wearing of face masks, especially among unvaccinated children, as the country further eases COVID-19 restrictions.
Speaking at a hearing by the House committee on trade and industry on the easing of restrictions in Metro Manila, OCTA Research fellow Dr. Guido David said the country should consider the experience of the United Kingdom, which had a “significantly high infection rate” among schoolchildren amid the relaxing of quarantine rules there.
He said the recent surge in COVID-19 infections in the UK could be attributed to the lack of policy on the mandatory wearing of face masks.
“It’s about 15 times higher than adults and I think this is something that we have to bring to the table,” David said of the infections there.
He added, “Part of the recent case increase in the UK [is] they are no longer following the mask mandate so this is definitely something we have to [consider]. We’re keeping the mask mandate and the minimum public health standards.”
‘Be mindful of risks’
“It may be difficult to monitor the mask mandate for children so this is something of a concern because we’re having limited face-to-face classes. This will be the responsibility of teachers who are in charge of the classes,” David pointed out further.
On Monday, thousands of children returned to school after the government began the pilot run of limited in-person classes in more than 100 public schools in the country.
The government has also allowed children in malls, parks, and other public spaces after almost two years of restrictions due to the pandemic.
The Philippine Medical Association has advised parents to refrain from bringing their children to malls and other establishments.
President Duterte too has urged the local governments to regulate the presence of children in malls.
“They have no defense mechanism in their system or body against COVID-19, unlike those who are already vaccinated. On this note, I am calling all local government units to consider passing ordinances for age restriction among minors who can be allowed to go to the malls,” he said in his regular public address on Monday.
“Again, to the parents and guardians of minors who are unvaccinated, please be mindful of the risks. Part of caring for them is thinking about their safety. I hope no one among our children will get COVID-19,” he added.
In the capital region, the Metro Manila Council will come up with a unified policy on the presence of minors in malls, said Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chair Benhur Abalos. INQ
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