GET PROTECTED. The “Back-to-Vax Champion” Covid-19 vaccination ramp-up program reiterates the importance of getting the jab against the virus at SM North Edsa in Quezon City on Friday (June 17, 2022). Health authorities continued to remind that vaccines and wearing face masks will prevent a surge in cases and infections from developing severe symptoms. (Screengrab from PCOO livestream)

MANILA – The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) insisted Friday on the need to wear face masks, both indoors and outdoors.

Secretary Vince Dizon, IATF-EID deputy chief implementor, said other countries record higher daily cases than the Philippines because they have stopped the mandatory use of face masks.

"Kailangan pa rin ang face mask. Ayon sa mga sinasabi ng mga eksperto, ito ang isa sa mga napakalaking rason kaya mababa ang kaso natin kumpara sa ibang mga bansa (We still need face masks. According to experts, it is one of the biggest reasons why we have lower number of cases compared to other countries)," Dizon said during the “Back-to-Vax Champion” Covid-19 vaccination ramp-up event at SM North Edsa in Quezon City.

Apart from relaxing the face mask mandate, Dizon cited increased mobility as another reason for the uptick in the number of cases in other nations.

Dizon said the world must learn to live with Covid-19 more than two years since the pandemic began.

"Why are we trying to live with Covid-19? Because we have to. Because there is a bigger problem in the world now and that is the global economy," he said.

The Philippines, Dizon said, has dealt well with the virus even when the Omicron variant attacked in January.

"While it is true that our cases yesterday was 400, the highest since April, that's because since March, we've been roughly below 500 cases a day consistently. We already know how to live with it. We know how to manage Covid-19 already and we've successfully done so," he said.

Dizon likewise promoted getting booster shots and for children age 5 to 17 to be vaccinated.

"Bakuna at mask. Kung ‘yung dalawang ‘yun ay gagawin po natin, magiging okay po tayo. Hindi po tayo kelangan mag-Alert Level 2. Hindi po tayo kelangan mag-lockdown. Tuloy-tuloy po ang trabaho, panonood ng sine at pagkain sa labas. Basta magpabakuna po tayo, magpa-boost po tayo, mag-mask po tayo (Vaccination and mask. If these two will be done, we will be okay. We don't need to go back to Alert Level 2. We don't need to go on lockdowns. Jobs will continue, watching in cinemas, and eating in restaurants. But we have to get vaccinated, boosted, and wear masks)," he said.

Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año, and Metropolitan Manila Development Authority Chairperson Romando Artes were among those who graced the program.

In a video message, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go urged the public to get inoculated, including those who do not have booster shots yet.

"Kung mahal po natin ang ating mga front-liners, magpabakuna na po tayo. Mas ma-iiwasan po ang pagtaas ng kaso at hindi po bumagsak ang ating (If we love our front-liners, we should get ourselves vaccinated. We will avoid the increase in the number of cases and the collapse of our) health care system," Go said. (PNA)