As COVID-19 variant emerges, is it time to ‘double-mask’?

Job Manahan and Michael Delizo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 30 2021 07:46 PM | Updated as of Jan 30 2021 08:17 PM

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Video courtesy of PTV

MANILA—The Department of Health (DOH) on Saturday said it saw no need to require the public to wear double masks or 3-ply face masks, despite the presence of the new and more transmissible COVID-19 variant in the country. 

In a virtual briefing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said there was little evidence to support the effectiveness of double masking and thus make it mandatory.

“Sa ngayon po, hindi naman natin nakikita pa na ang ebidensiyang 'yan ay sukat na at sapat na para magsabi na kailangan natin 'yan," Vergeire explained. 

(For now, there is little evidence to show that there is a need to require double masks.) 

The official said wearing a single face mask would provide at least 60 to 70 percent protection from the virus transmission. The protection will increase up to 99 percent if an individual will wear a face shield while practicing physical distancing. 

Canada’s top public health doctor recently recommended the wearing of 3-layered non-surgical masks, in a bid to further prevent the spread of the disease. 

United States top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, meanwhile, urged Americans to practice double masking as an added layer against respiratory droplets. 

But Vergeire said of the current masks being used: “Ito po ay nagagamit natin at gumagana naman. Nakikita natin that we can be able to manage the cases kung gagawin lang po natin. 

"So, ito pong double face mask ay wala pa hong sapat na ebidensiya para irekomenda natin para sa ating mga kababayan."

(Our present method of mask wearing is effective, and we know that we manage these cases if we only follow it. There is not enough evidence on double masking’s effectiveness to recommend it to the public.)

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Updating minimum public health guidelines on mask or face shield wearing will also not be necessary as of now.

" 'Yong pagdodoble ng face mask, ay hindi po namin nakikita at ayon din sa ating eksperto, hindi natin nakikita 'yong pangangailangan na ganyan sa ngayon po," Vergeire said. 

(Experts do not see the need for double face masks for now.) 

The agency earlier in the week said it would look into whether or not wearing two face masks at a time would be more effective in avoiding COVID-19. 

The country has so far reported 17 people infected with the new COVID-19 variant.