COVID task force to Marcos: No need to bring back mandatory masking

Davinci Maru, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 02 2023 04:28 PM

ABS-CBN News/File
The Divisoria market in Manila on Sept. 12, 2022. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA — The country's pandemic task force is not recommending reimposing strict mask rules amid an uptick in COVID-19 cases, the Department of Health said Tuesday.

According to DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases submitted this recommendation to President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.

"Ang Kagawaran ng Kalusugan at ang iba't ibang miyembro ng IATF ay nakapagpasa na po ng rekomendasyon sa ating Pangulo tungkol sa hindi na kinakailangang pagbalik ng mga restriction katulad ng mandatory masking at pagsuot na lamang nito sa mga at-risk nating mga kababayan and in high-risk situation," she said in a press briefing.

(The DOH and other agencies submitted a recommendation to the President on the lack of need to bring back restrictions like mandatory masking, and instead limiting these to groups that are at risk and in high-risk situations.)

Marcos Jr. over the weekend said the government might reimpose mandatory masking following an increase in coronavirus infections.

Vergeire clarified the IATF held its meeting last week, which included discussions on the country's pandemic exit plan.

Wearing of masks became voluntary in indoor and outdoor settings in October. But masking remains mandatory in healthcare facilities and public transportation.

Amid the presence of highly transmissible COVID-19 variants, the elderly, individuals with comorbidities, immunocompromised persons and the unvaccinated are still "highly encouraged" to wear mask, Vergeire said.

In the past week, the daily average of COVID-19 cases in the Philippines rose by 42 percent.

The country tallied 4,456 coronavirus infections from April 24 to 30 or an average of 637 daily cases.

Based on the DOH's COVID-19 Tracker, the Philippines has 5,875 active COVID-19 cases as of April 30.

Three years since the pandemic started, the country has recorded over 4,093,000 coronavirus infections. The death toll stood at 66,444.

Courtesy of DOH