DOH: Alert level 1 may stay until after Duterte
MANILA, Philippines — Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Thursday said Filipinos should continue to wear face masks as the alert level 1 status in many areas of the country would likely remain until the end of President Rodrigo Duterte’s term.
Speaking at the televised Laging Handa public briefing, Duque said the proposal to ease the requirement for people to wear masks outside their homes during alert level 1, though being studied, was still premature.
“[We ask for] some patience, we’re studying it. And when the time comes that we have to remove the mask, why not? But now, it’s still premature, too early. So … [we’ll be under] alert level 1 for now and likely until the end of the term of President Duterte,” he said.
Duque said the Philippines should learn from the experience of various countries, especially in Europe where mask mandates were “hurriedly” removed.
‘Let’s not rush’
“Now, you see [COVID-19] cases are spreading again in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and France. Do we want to be like them? We don’t. So let’s not rush, let us be prudent, and let us be guided by our data and science through our expert panels,” Duque said.
The Department of Health chief said there was also no assurance that alert level 1 would stay due to the threats posed by the COVID-19 variants and mutations that had already led to surges and lockdowns in several countries.
Duque said the current priority of the government is to ensure that all areas remaining under alert level 2 would soon shift to alert level 1. He said discussions were still ongoing on what to do after the entire country is on alert level 1.
He said there were still 57 provinces, highly urbanized cities, and independent component cities under alert level 2, and the government was rushing efforts to achieve in those areas at least 70-percent vaccination coverage for their 80 percent of the target general population and 85 percent of the target senior citizen population.
Due to the threats posed by COVID-19 mutations such as the Deltacron and the BA.2.2 sublineage, Duque said the government continued to maintain its strategy but he added that the country was better prepared this time because of its high vaccination coverage.
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