Use of face masks now required in all areas under ECQ

By Azer Parrocha

April 2, 2020, 1:57 pm

MANILA – Filipinos are now required to wear face masks or other protective equipment when leaving their homes to minimize the transmission of the 2019 coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

In a virtual presser on Thursday, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the wearing of face masks will be mandatory for the duration of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) or until April 12.

“For areas placed under ECQ, the IATF hereby adopts the policy of mandatory wearing by all residents of face masks, ear loop 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, whenever allowed to go out of their residences pursuant to existing guidelines issued by the national government,” Nograles said

Citing the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), he said face masks can either be store-bought or improvised, given the global shortage of face masks.

He said local government units are also urged to issue necessary executive orders or ordinances to require the use of face mask and impose such penalties for offenders.

Nograles said the public should comply with the government’s new directive to help reduce the number of persons contracting the disease.

“Kung kailangan po nating lumabas ng bahay, kailangan po mag mask. Kahit improvised ito o panyo, basta po may pangtakip tayo ng bibig at ilong (If you need to leave your homes, you need to wear masks. Even if they are improvised or handkerchiefs as long as you cover your mouths and noses),” he said.

The supply of disposable face masks remains low, but the Department of Trade (DTI) said the stocks will soon be replenished.

Before putting on a mask, the World Health Organization (WHO) reminded the public to ensure they have cleaned their hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.

They should also cover their mouths and noses with mask and make sure there are no gaps between their faces and the mask.

They should also avoid touching the mask while using it and replace the mask with a new one as soon as it is damp and do not re-use single-use masks.

To remove the mask: remove it from behind and discard immediately in a closed bin; clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.

President Rodrigo Duterte signed the "Bayanihan to Heal as One Act" or Republic Act 11469 declaring a state of national emergency over the entire country and giving him special powers to address the Covid-19 pandemic.

RA 11469 allows Duterte to immediately procure medical supplies such as personal protective equipment, laboratory and medical equipment, and testing kits.

As of Wednesday, the Department of Health said the country has 2,311 confirmed Covid-19 cases, 96 fatalities, and 50 recoveries. (PNA)