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DOH on masking amid rising COVID-19 cases: Know your risk

The public should assess themselves when and where they should put their face mask on, especially now that new COVID-19 infections are increasing once more, according to the Department of Health (DOH).

DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said that with the rising cases, people should be vigilant and aware of how they should protect themselves against the coronavirus, instead of being afraid.

“Mahirap po na ang ating bansa, aatras aabante sa mga regulasyon na ating pinapatupad. Kailangan lamang talaga matulungan tayo ng sambayanang Pilipino that we will know kung kailan natin kailangang suot ang mask at kung kailangan, pwede namang hindi,” she said at a press conference Tuesday.

(It is difficult if our country will go back and forth with regards to the regulations that we implement. The Filipino people really need to help us so that we will know when we need to wear the mask or not.)

“We need to know our risk. Kapag ikaw ay nakakatanda, ikaw ay may ibang sakit o comorbidity, kapag ikaw ay may dalang anak, alam na po natin na dapat nagma-mask tayo kapag masikip. Dapat piliin natin ‘yung mga lugar na maayos ang daloy ng hangin,” she added.

(If you are old, if you have another disease or comorbidity, if you are carrying a child, you should already know that you should wear a mask when it is crowded. You should also choose the places with good airflow.)

Latest data from OCTA Research on Tuesday showed that the seven-day positivity rate in Metro Manila rose to 11.4% from last week’s 7.5%.

Positivity rate refers to the percentage of people who were found positive for COVID-19 among the total number of individuals tested.

Vergeire has repeatedly said that there are a lot of factors affecting the positivity rate, thus it should not be the sole basis of the COVID-19 situation in the country.

In October last year, Malacañang released Executive Order No. 7, which made the wearing of face masks both indoors and outdoors voluntary amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last week, Vergeire said the DOH is not considering proposing the mandatory wearing of face masks anew as cases and even hospital utilization remain manageable.

OCTA Research fellow Dr. Guido David floated the possibility that the rising cases may be due to the COVID-19 Omicron subvariant XBB.1.16 spreading in the country.

The DOH announced Tuesday that it recorded the first case of XBB.1.16 in Western Visayas, based on the latest genome sequencing from April 12 to 17.

The agency said XBB.1.16 is a XBB sublineage that was recently added to the list of variants under monitoring by the World Health Organization (WHO) and European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) last March 22 and 23, respectively. — RSJ, GMA Integrated News

Tags: news, COVID-19, DOH