DOH, biz groups: No need to return to mandatory masking | Inquirer News
‘Rise in Covid cases not yet alarming’

DOH, biz groups: No need to return to mandatory masking

STILL A THREAT Commuters still opt to wear face masks as protection from COVID-19 despite the recent lifting of the public health emergency. —RICHARD A. REYES

STILL A THREAT Commuters still opt to wear face masks as protection from COVID-19 despite the recent lifting of the public health emergency. —RICHARD A. REYES

While there has been a slight uptick in the number of COVID-19 cases, the Department of Health (DOH) is not keen on supporting the return of mandatory masking.

Health Secretary Teodoro Herbosa on Friday said the cases, which are indeed increasing, have not yet reached an alarming rate and the trend is expected to continue as the holiday season nears.

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“There are certain hospitals that already implemented stricter masking policies, like the PGH (Philippine General Hospital), but that doesn’t mean the DOH is saying we should all wear a mask again,” Herbosa told a press conference.

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Herbosa noted that the public health emergency has already been downgraded and that COVID-19 is no longer a big health risk as it once was. He added that implementing mask mandates are relative to private or public institutions but not compulsory to the general public.

The trend of COVID-19, he said, is still being monitored since this can still be fatal to senior citizens and those with comorbidities, but for now there’s only been a “minimal increase” in new cases.

“During the season there’s a higher incidence of acute respiratory infections because there are a lot of parties, many family reunions, more people in shopping malls, more people in public places,” Herbosa said.

“But we shouldn’t be worried about COVID-19 anymore because according to our infectious diseases experts, the most recent COVID variant of interest is just like the common flu and cough,” Herbosa added.

According to Herbosa, there were 193,148 Influenza-like illnesses reported nationwide this year, which was 33 percent higher than last year.

Two of the country’s most prominent business groups on Friday also agreed that there was no need to restore mandatory masking despite the rise in COVID-19 infections.

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Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry president George Barcelon said that while they were conscious of the trend, a “granular” approach is more suited to handle areas where cases of the infectious disease are rising.

READ: COVID cases hit 200 mark; masking rule back at PGH

“We should just practice granularity. In places where there are infections, those are the only areas where there should be wearing of masks,” Barcelon said in a phone interview with the Inquirer.

“It will be difficult to implement it everywhere. One thing leads to another and we do not want the kind of quarantine episodes that we had in the past,” he added.

Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) president Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr. expressed the same sentiment, saying that while some companies are encouraging employees to wear face masks, it should not be mandatory.

“If there are businesses that have COVID cases, then sure, they should wear masks. But it’s not necessary for others,” Ortiz-Luis told the Inquirer.

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“We will be guided by data. If [government] data points to that, then we will follow the recommendation,” he added.

For more news about the novel coronavirus click here.
What you need to know about Coronavirus.
For more information on COVID-19, call the DOH Hotline: (02) 86517800 local 1149/1150.

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TAGS: COVID-19, DoH, face mask, masking

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