DOH: Rise in COVID-19 cases can't be linked to eased masking rules for now

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DOH: Rise in COVID-19 cases can't be linked to eased masking rules for now
Face mask-clad pedestrians cross a road in Manila on September 12, 2022. The Philippines on September 12 lifted a requirement for masks to be worn outdoors, more than two years after imposing the ruling as part of health measures against the Covid-19 coronavirus.
AFP / Ted Aljibe

MANILA, Philippines — The recent increase in the number of COVID-19 cases cannot be attributed to the implementation of eased face mask rules for now, the Department of Health said Tuesday.

The agency reported that the rise in coronavirus cases continues in recent days. Metro Manila is deemed “moderate risk” for COVID-19 transmission following an increase in the number of infections.

Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, officer-in-charge of the DOH, said the department is still analyzing the effects of the optional masking outdoors to the trend of cases.

“We still cannot directly correlate this to the new masking rules,” Vergeire said.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on September 12 signed an executive order making face masks voluntary in open and non-crowded outdoor areas with good ventilation. It usually takes two weeks for the DOH to analyze the effects of policy changes.

The health official said the increase in the number of cases may be due to the increased mobility of the public. Authorities observed that mobility has risen since mid-August, or when schools in the country reopened their doors to students after two and a half years. 

“Once mobility increases, we expect that there is more interaction between and among people. So the more interactions there are, the more likely disease transmission is,” Vergeire said.

The DOH recorded 14,707 additional COVID-19 cases from September 12 to 18. The figure was 4% lower than the infections logged from a week before.

There were 727 severe and critical patients in hospitals, which accounted for 10% of the country’s total COVID-19 admissions. 




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