Luzon residents now required to wear face masks when leaving homes

MANILA, Philippines – Luzon residents will now be required to wear face masks or improvised face shields when leaving their homes to work or buy essential goods, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said on Thursday, April 2. 

Nograles said local government units were also directed to issue the necessary corresponding orders requiring the use of face masks, along with penalties for violations of the measure that is meant to stem the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“For areas placed under ECQ [enhanced community quarantine], the IATF hereby adopts the policy of mandatory wearing by all residents of face masks…whenever allowed to go out of their residences pursuant to existing guidelines issued by the national government,” Nograles said in a Laging Handa briefing Thursday morning.  (LIST: Who are allowed out during Luzon lockdown?)

What if I don't have a mask? Nograles said Filipinos can use “earloop masks, indigenous, reusable or do-it-yourself masks, face shields, handkerchiefs, or such other protective equipment that can effectively lessen the transmission of COVID-19,” the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.  

Kahit improvised ito o panyo, basta po may pangtakip tayo ng bibig at ilong (Even if this is improvised or a handkerchief, for as long as your mouth and nose are covered)," he added.

Amid a shortage? The latest directed comes as coronavirus cases continue to climb in the Philippines, where there are 2,311 coronavirus cases, including 96 deaths and 50 recoveries, as of Wednesday, April 1.

While the World Health Organization (WHO) earlier advised healthy people to refrain from using masks, the organization said it was continuing to study the evidence about its use as possible protection against the novel coronavirus.

For now, they recommended healthy people who were caring for the sick should be given priority when having access to masks.  

One concern with recommending the widespread use of masks is that such measures can cause a shortage of the commodity already lacking and needed most for health workers.  

Like most countries, the Philippines suffered from a shortage of masks with stocks nearly depleted in the first few weeks of the outbreak. 

Asked what would be the government’s direction once the lockdown is lifted, Nograles said this would be further discussed and announced once guidelines are given on what to expect after the quarantine period ends. – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs, the overseas Filipino workers, and elections. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.

image