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Senator urges voluntary wearing of masks

The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Bong Go, chairman of the Senate committee on health and demography, reminded Filipinos, especially the elderly, to remain vigilant in the face of ongoing health threats.

He emphasized that everyone is still at risk of contracting COVID-19 and the new bacterial infection known as Mycoplasma pneumoniae, commonly referred to as “walking pneumonia.”

The chair of the committee on health of the Commission on Appointments said during a hearing last Tuesday that it was important to maintain health precautions, particularly the voluntary use of face masks, even as certain mandates are being relaxed.

The senator added that the threat of “walking pneumonia” adds a new layer of complexity to public health, urging citizens to stay informed and adhere to preventive measures.

“While the wearing of masks is not mandatory, I urge the public to continue wearing them,” Go said.

Meanwhile, Health Secretary Ted Herbosa agreed with Go, saying, “My advice is the same, practice what we learned from the pandemic. Social distancing and masking are top etiquette to prevent the spread.”

On Wednesday, the Department of Health reported four cases of walking pneumonia with influenza-like illnesses (ILI) as of Nov. 25. All individuals affected by these cases have since recovered.

“Only 4 (0.08 percent) of the confirmed influenza-like illnesses cases from January up to Nov. 25, 2023 were due to M. pneumoniae or ‘walking pneumonia.’ All these cases have recovered. More than half of confirmed ILI cases were due to other well-known and commonly detected pathogens. We have medicines that can treat M. pneumoniae and we can easily prevent its transmission,” DOH further clarified.

“The DOH reassures the public that detecting M. pneumoniae is not new or unusual… This is not a notifiable disease globally. The DOH can scan but we depend on what the media or the World Health Organization (WHO) will report. So far, the only country that has recorded incidents of Mycoplasma pneumoniae is China,” it added.

Highlighting his commitment to public health, Go continues to advocate for several proposed legislative measures aimed at strengthening the country’s health care system.

Go has filed Senate Bill 195 or the creation of a Center for Disease Control. If enacted into law, the CDC would function as the nation’s central hub for disease prevention, surveillance and control. The center’s mandate extends to both infectious and non-communicable diseases, ensuring a comprehensive approach to public health.

In tandem with SB 195, Go has championed SB 196, envisioning the establishment of a Virology Science and Technology Institute. This institute is designed to be a specialized center for virology, enhancing the country’s capabilities in studying, detecting and combatting emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases.

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BONG GO

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