Wearing of face mask outdoors now voluntary. Now what?

Sep 14, 2022 0 comments



The news is out: face masks are now optional to be worn outdoors. Now is it a good news or bad news for the Philippines?


After the faceshield lift that took place November last year, The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases or the IATF has proposed that the outdoor use of face masks would no longer be required and the president has already signed the said proposal. Soon, the executive order would be released. However, the approval of the proposal has raised some concerns from health experts. 


With a minimal number of cases of COVID-19 still being reported daily and with the reported cases of Monkeypox that still don’t have any further updates, we still have a lot of questions regarding this huge change that will be implemented soon. Should we or should we not feel confident about the upcoming months if people are already masked of?


What is the status of COVID 19 in the Philippines?


According to The Manila Times, the Philippines has recorded a total number of 15,379 COVID-19 cases from September 5 to September 11. In Metro Manila, the positivity rate of cases as of September 9 is at 13.1%. Although the numbers have been relieving as compared to what we’ve seen over the past two years, the public should still take it seriously and should still be encouraged to wear face masks, especially if they’re at an overcrowded are where transmission will have a domino effect once it happens.


Do we still need to be vaccinated?


One of the ways to combat the pandemic is through the distribution of vaccines. Despite 72 million individuals being fully vaccinated, only 18 million of them have received a booster shot. Vaccines increase the recipient's immunity to the virus and lessen the severity in case the vaccinated individual tests positive for COVID. 


However, vaccines are only known to be effective for a certain period of time. While there’s still a huge population of individuals who have not updated their vaccination, they could still be putting their health at risk. Health agencies should be stricter with the implementation of vaccines if they’re going to make face masks optional. Otherwise, it misleads the public that there’s no need to be worried about the COVID-19 virus.


Weren’t there confirmed Monkeypox cases weeks ago?


An even worse disease called Monkeypox alarmed the public when its first case in the Philippines was recorded its first case a month ago. As of September 9, Dr. Ashley Lopez of The City Health Office informs The Philippine News Agency that there have been four confirmed cases of Monkeypox in NCR. He also reassures that these patients have been isolated in facilities that are well equipped to treat Monkeypox


Still, the Philippines shouldn’t be relaxed regarding Monkeypox as there are increasing cases worldwide, namely in the United States where cases have passed 20,000 and precautionary measures such as flight bans have not yet been implemented in the Philippines. If the country becomes too careless with Monkeypox, we must know that its transmissibility is easier than COVID-19 and it also takes longer to treat. The good news, for now, is drastic measures are still no longer necessary.


What should we do now?


Although the status of COVID-19 has significantly improved from two years ago, we should remember that we still haven’t completely recovered from its damage. Vaccinations should still be mandated and the public should still be encouraged to observe health measures such as physical distancing, sanitation and most importantly, the wearing of face masks. 


━━ Written By Julia Bautista 
━━  Photo By Ben Nabong/Rappler


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