PNA file photo by Joey O. Razon

MANILA – The Department of Health (DOH) on Wednesday said the wearing of face masks decreases the possibility of infection by 70 to 80 percent, reminding Filipinos not to be complacent with the dropping number of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases.

Hanggang sa hindi pa natin naaabot ang gusto nating rate para sa bakunahan para maipataas ang immunity ng ating populasyon, sana lahat tayo na Pilipino nagkakaisa na ipatupad muna natin ang mask mandates natin (I hope all Filipinos will cooperate about the implementation of our mask mandates until we haven’t reached the vaccination rate we want to increase our population’s immunity),” DOH officer-in-charge Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in media briefing.

This came after Cebu City issued an executive order (EO) making use of face masks non-obligatory in open spaces and most places.

The EO stated wearing face masks will still be required in hospitals and business establishments have the discretion whether to implement or not the face mask mandate.

“We were never consulted on this matter regarding the removal of this face mask outdoors and this executive order they’re going to issue,” Vergeire said.

She noted that the matter is now under the jurisdiction of the Department of the Interior and Local government which has the authority to implement policies across all local government units without exemptions.

“As I always said, a city in a country cannot act on its own, cannot be an island across all islands,” she said.

While noting that prevention of Covid-19 infection is the responsibility of every Filipino, Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama said must have the freedom to choose between wearing a face mask or not on the basis of self-preservation.

Earlier, health experts have said the risk of infection would be higher in areas not implementing the safeguards for Covid-19 prevention.

“We know that people all over the country travel to and from these areas of the country, and we know that Covid-19 crosses borders,” Vergeire said.

Mula nang nag-umpisa tayo ng Covid-19 [response] atin pong in-emphasize at na-highlight (Since we started our Covid-19 response, we have emphasized and highlighted) this should be a one nation approach, this is the whole Philippines implementing safeguards for our population,” she added. (PNA)