IATF says no to mask mandate

Rhodina Villanueva - The Philippine Star
IATF says no to mask mandate
Individuals wear face masks as they go around the city of Manila on May 2, 2023.
STAR / Edd Gumban

MANILA, Philippines — Despite the continuing increase in COVID cases, the Department of Health (DOH) has recommended to the Office of the President (OP) not to bring back the mandatory face mask policy.

“We have recommended to the OP based on the agreement coming from the IATF that there is no need for mandatory wearing of face masks,” DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said yesterday, referring to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Vergeire said there is a need to shift people’s mindset that a cycle of an increase and decrease in COVID-19 cases could happen because the virus is here to stay.

“Throughout its life cycle, the virus mutates and it will produce variants every now and then. What is important is that we learn how to protect ourselves and our families,” Vergeire said.

She advised Filipinos to wear masks in enclosed spaces and poorly ventilated areas, especially those who are unvaccinated, elderly and with comorbidities or immunocompromised.

“Our policies (on masking) should not be ‘back and forth.’ We need each other’s cooperation so we can get out of this situation,” said Vergeire.

She said there is a need to increase the “risk tolerance” as every time the cases spike, people panic and are in fear.

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