DOH: Face masks may go by end-2022 if COVID-19 becomes endemic
MANILA, Philippines — The use of face masks may hopefully be gone by the end of this year, according to the Department of Health (DOH), if coronavirus cases in the country become “manageable” and COVID-19 “reach that endemic state.”
But Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that among the various pandemic interventions imposed by the government, face mask mandate would be the “last to go.”
“I think by the end of the year, hopefully, if cases will really be manageable already and we reach that endemic state that we are all hoping for, maybe masks will go,” she said in an interview over ABS CBN News Channel on Thursday.
“But this will be the last to go, among the different interventions that we are doing,” she added.
Vergeire was responding to vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr.’s earlier remark that mandatory use of face masks in open spaces will probably be removed by the last quarter of 2022.
She noted that aside from the new coronavirus disease, face masks have been protecting Filipinos from a lot of diseases, resulting in fewer numbers of respiratory infections in the country.
She said the DOH hopes that Filipinos will continue wearing face masks and practice other safety protocols even as the country shifts to a “new normal” during the pandemic.
“One of the things we are relying on as we shift to this new normal, meaning easing off restrictions, would be that people would be imbibing that culture or that practice where masks would be part of our daily lives, vaccination is there and also the safety protocols that we implement,” the DOH official said.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, however, earlier said that the idea of doing away with face mask use during the pandemic is “still iffy” and there are no discussions in the government about it yet.
For his part, government medical adviser Ted Herbosa said face masks may no longer be required when in open spaces by the last quarter of 2022 if the government manages to fully vaccinate 90 million Filipinos by then.
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