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'This is not a joking matter': DOH reminds public that experts recommend wearing masks

The Department of Health (DOH) on Monday reminded the public that experts recommend wearing masks as protection against COVID-19.

"This is not a joking matter," Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said when asked about a lawyer's statement that he does not believe in wearing masks outdoors.

Lorenzo Gadon was recently seen wearing a face shield with a face mask taped to it. He was quoted in reports as saying that the government has "overreacted" to COVID-19.

"''Yung mga ganitong statement is not helping us at all," Vergeire said at a press briefing, explaining that the public knows that people have been infected, many have died, the economy has suffered, and that healthcare workers are overwhelmed.

She expressed concern that some may follow Gadon's example.

"Sana lahat ng tao naiintindihan nila kung ano po ang implikasyon kapag nagsasalita po sila sa public because people might be following them and this is not the right way to go. Magkakasakit po ang mga tao," she said.

"We seek the help of everybody in giving the accurate information to our general public," she said. In the same way, she said the public should only listen to "accurate information."

The health official said scientific studies say that wearing a mask protects a person from being infected by 85%, and that wearing a mask and face shield and observing physical distancing prevents infection by 99%.

For his part, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said Gadon is not a medical doctor even as he acknowledged the latter’s “personal opinion.”

“Hindi naman po doktor kasi si Larry Gadon, iyan po ay pañero ko. So, let that be his personal opinion,” Roque said in a televised briefing on Monday.

“Sana po huwag na tayong maghintay na tayo pa ang maging susunod na biktima. Alam na po natin iyan sa buong mundo na epektibo po ang pagsusuot ng face mask, paghuhugas ng kamay at pagso-social distancing.”

As of Sunday, there were 161,253 COVID-19 cases in the Philippines, including 112,586 recoveries and 2,665 deaths. —KBK/RSJ, GMA News