Gov’t urged to provide free masks to poor Filipinos amid pandemic


Posted at Jul 18 2020 08:52 PM

Police officers conduct an information drive on COVID-19 in Tonsuya, Malabon on July 16, 2020. Residents were reminded to stay indoors and use face masks if they have to travel within their community to curb the spread of COVID-19. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The Philippine government should provide free face masks to the poor, a public health expert said Saturday, as COVID-19 infections continued to mount.

Speaking on ABS-CBN's Teleradyo, Dr. Tony Leachon said the best way to avoid getting COVID-19 is through preventive measures.

"Ilan sa kababayan natin ang puwedeng makabili ng mask kung mahirap ka? Pagkain nga lang hindi nila mabili. Mahirap sila. Ang daming walang trabaho," he said.

"The best way is to have 100-percent coverage of mandatory face mask. Bigay ng gobyerno kasi matipid siya eh. Bigay ng alcohol. Hulihin later on kung hindi sumunod after giving that."

Leachon is a former adviser to the government task force on COVID-19, but was let go due to his “preemptive” releases of information.

Aside from testing, tracing and treating COVID-19 patients, he said the government should rethink prevention strategies as the virus has shown no sign of abating.

He noted that most of those admitted in hospitals belong to urban poor areas.

"Nakikita ko mataas ang admission in the hospital ngayon at ang mga naa-admit ay usually mga mahihirap, urban population at middle class," Leachon said.

Due to a surge of COVID-19 infections, University of the Philippines researchers expect coronavirus cases to surpass 80,000 by the end of July.

"Aabot tayo o maaaring lampas pa. Ang projection na 'yan ay malapit sa katotohanan, sa tingin ko," Leachon said.

To date, the number of COVID-19 cases in the Philippines surpassed 65,000, with 2,357 new infections reported Saturday. The tally includes 1,773 fatalities and 22,067 recoveries.

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