Amid increasing COVID-19 cases in PH due in part to relaxed mask wearing policy
AFTER the Department of Health noted that the relaxed policy on mask wearing was one of the factors that contributed to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the country, Senator and Chair of the Senate Committee on Health Christopher “Bong” Go urged the Filipinos to remain vigilant by still wearing masks whenever possible.
“Bilang Committee Chair on Health, hinihikayat ko pa rin po ang ating mga kababayan na huwag maging kumpiyansa, lalo na ngayon at tumataas ang kaso ng COVID-19 sa bansa,” said Go.
“Habang nandiyan si COVID, delikado pa rin po ang panahon. Wala naman sigurong mawawala sa atin kung susuotin po natin ang ating mga mask. Mas mahirap pong magkasakit, sa totoo lang po,” he added.
On Tuesday, September 27, the DOH reported that one of the factors contributing to the rise in COVID-19 cases nationwide was the looser guideline regarding the wearing of face masks. The increased mobility of people and their innate behaviors were also mentioned as contributing factors to the rising infection rate.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., on September 12, signed Executive Order No. 3, which makes wearing of masks optional in open spaces, or non-crowded outdoor areas with good ventilation. Senior citizens and immunocompromised individuals, however, are highly encouraged to wear their masks.
Between September 19 and 25, the health department reported that there was a 22% increase in COVID-19 cases across the country. The reproduction rate also increased from 1.21 on September 15 to 1.30 as of September 22. However, the healthcare utilization rate in the National Capital Region for COVID-19 remained low at 36%.
“Huwag pa rin po sana maging kumpiyansa. Nasa atin naman ‘yan, nasa Pilipino naman ‘yan. Voluntary ang pagsusuot ng face mask kaya nasa inyo naman ang desisyon kapag lumabas kayo… para naman ito sa inyong proteksyon,” Go stressed further.
Meanwhile, Go emphasized the necessity to step up the vaccination information campaign in order to convince more Filipinos to get their complete vaccine and booster shots.
“Ang nangyayari kasi ngayon, kulang ‘yung information drive natin na ipaintindi sa mga kababayan natin na kulang pa rin, hindi pa sapat ang initial two doses,” said Go.
Go also encouraged the public to take advantage of the ongoing “Bakunahang Bayan” program of the DOH wherein more vaccination sites were set up to ramp up vaccination.
In order to convince more Filipinos, particularly those who are still hesitant, to get their COVID-19 shots, Go also reiterated his plea for the government to continue providing incentives to those who have obtained complete vaccine and booster doses.
“Kaya nga po dapat i-incentivize natin, bigyan natin, tayo po ang mag-adjust sa gobyerno,” said Go.
“Hindi lang po ang national government, pati po LGUs (local government units), pwede bang suyurin n’yo po, dalhin n’yo po sa inyong mga barangay itong mga bakunang ito, kesa naman po ma-expire,” he added.
To ensure that the country is better prepared for future pandemics, Go refiled in the Senate his twin bills, Senate Bill Nos. 195 and 196, which would create the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Virology Science and Technology Institute of the Philippines, respectively.