Some 13% of Filipinos do not own a face mask, survey suggests
In this Jan. 31, 2020 photo, pedestrians in Metro Manila are shown wearing face masks, a day after the Department of Health confirmed the first case of novel coronavirus in the Philippines.
The STAR/Edd Gumban
Some 13% of Filipinos do not own a face mask, survey suggests
( - September 10, 2020 - 2:28pm

MANILA, Philippines — Almost a fifth of Filipinos may not have access to face masks amid the coronavirus-induced quarantines, new data from an international finance comparison platform suggests. 

According to new research from website, 87% of Filipinos surveyed in a global study that included a poll of 2,009 Filipino adults own a specified face mask.

This potentially leaves 13% of Filipinos, good for around 14.2 million Filipinos, who do not own face masks, which are required by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease over the general community quarantine period. 

The 87%-mask rate is consistent with an earlier survey by the Social Weather Stations in May that found that 77% of working-age Filipinos (15 years old and above) always use a face mask when going out of their houses, 68% always wash their hands several times a day, and 64% always keep “social distance” or a safe distance of one meter from other people when outside their homes.

The Philippines in the global study also ranked third out of the fifteen included countries in face mask adoption, those aged 45-54 years old are leading the pack for face mask adoption (92%), followed by those aged 65+ (80%). Meanwhile, the youngest adult group - those aged 18-24 - are least likely to own a mask (76%).

"Face shields are the most popular mask type in the Philippines, with 43% of the adult population possessing one, followed by blue surgical masks (35%), cloth masks (31%) and medical-grade masks (20%)," the platform's report said. 

"The Philippines has the highest ownership rate of face shields of all countries included in the study, with the UK coming in second with just 13% of the population owning a face shield - a full 30 percentage points lower than the Philippines," it also said. 

According to the World Health Organization, face masks should be used "as part of a comprehensive strategy of measures to suppress transmission and save lives."

Quarantine enforcement authorities, though, continue to push for stricter enforcement to counteract what they say is a prevailing defiance towards health protocols among stubborn or "pasaway" Filipinos, a sentiment that data and surveys continue to belie. 

This, while pro-administration lawyer Larry Gadon earlier in August made headlines after he challenged the Department of Health and publicly claimed that face masks don't work, a potentially dangerous pronouncement owing to his considerable following on social media. — Franco Luna 

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