(PNA photo by Avito Dalan)

MANILA – The wearing of face mask is protection against other communicable diseases and not just coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), a health expert said Monday.

In a televised public briefing, Philippine Foundation for Vaccination Executive Director Dr. Lulu Bravo echoed the advice of Department of Health officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire to wear masks whether it is required or not.

"Basta kayo ay may comorbidity, immunocompromised, meron kayong sakit na cancer, transplant patient, 'yun pong talaga may edad na, medyo vulnerable, maski hindi Covid, 'yan po ay nangangalaga sa mga maysakit na maaari kayong mahawa gaya po ng trangkaso (If you have comorbidity, immunocompromised, you have cancer, you're a transplant patient, elderly, vulnerable, even not Covid-19, face mask protects you from diseases like flu)," she said, noting that it is currently the flu season.

"Maski hindi po Covid, maaari kayong magkaroon ng symptoms ng ubo, sipon, tsaka pneumonia (Even if it is not Covid-19, you can have symptoms like cough, colds and pneumonia)," she said.

The immunocompromised and the most vulnerable population, she said, need to have protection against these diseases which could be fatal.

Malacañang on Monday issued an executive order (EO) allowing the voluntary wearing of face masks in outdoor settings, particularly in open spaces and non-crowded outdoor areas with good ventilation.

The EO will be effective immediately since it has been published in the Official Gazette.

Under the EO, those who have yet to complete their primary Covid-19 vaccination series, senior citizens, and immunocompromised persons are still “strongly encouraged” to use face masks. 

Earlier, the Inter-Agency Task For the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases recommended the optional use of face mask outdoors for low-risk individuals in low-risk settings.

Since the pandemic started, the World Health Organization emphasized the wearing of face masks as a key measure to reduce the transmission of Covid-19 and save lives.

It said the wearing of well-fitted face masks should be a part of a comprehensive approach which include physical distancing, washing of hands regularly, and ensuring good ventilation of indoor spaces. (PNA)