Face masks to stay amid looser COVID-19 restrictions, Duterte says

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 22 2022 10:23 AM

People wearing face masks as a precaution against COVID-19 fall in line at the Monumento bus stop in Caloocan on January 3, 2021. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN New
People wearing face masks as a precaution against COVID-19 fall in line at the Monumento bus stop in Caloocan on January 3, 2021. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN New

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte has rejected calls to remove the face mask mandate even under looser quarantine levels, citing the threat of emerging COVID-19 variants. 

In his taped address to the nation aired Tuesday morning, Duterte said removing face shields was okay, but not mandating face masks could leave individuals vulnerable to COVID-19. 

"I am not ready to order the removal of the mask. Pero siguro yung plastic cover puwede na yun (sic) but as I said it has done a lot of good and prevented the contamination [from] spreading," he said. 

"Matagal pa ito, and there are reports... na may bagong COVID found in Israel. So whether we like it or not, kung totoo yan, it will reach again the shores of our country," he added. 

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III told Duterte that minimum public health standards may have also helped prevent other non-COVID cases in 2020. 

"Masking, hindi pa natin ito puwede pakawalan. Kailangan patuloy pa rin natin sundin ang panuntunan ng ating Department of Health at IATF," said Duque. 

Infectious disease expert Dr. Rontgene Solante earlier noted that based on metrics, the country is ready to shift to Alert Level 0.

Face mask wearing, however, must still be continued, he said. 

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