January 29, 2023

A health expert recommended retention of the face mask mandate should the state of public health emergency due to Covid-19 be lifted.
“Kung anuman iyong magbabago dito sa public health emergency o iyong state of calamity, mananatili pa rin ang face mask dahil ito ang importanteng tool natin na hindi tayo magkakahawa-hawaan. Wala pa rin tayong sinasabi na wala na tayong Covid,” infectious diseases expert Dr. Rontgene Solante said in a televised public briefing.
Solante said the World Health Organization has set new Covid-19 guidelines which include three important interventions as countries continue to move on and live with the virus:
Wearing of face masks among high-risk individuals (healthcare workers, elderly and immunocompromised) and in places that are crowded or have poor ventilation;
Shortening of isolation period. If with symptoms, isolation will be 10 days until symptoms are gone for three days, instead of 14 days. If asymptomatic, the total number of isolation days is five days instead of 10 days. One can isolate in a hospital or self-isolate at home and take an antigen test afterwards; and
Avail of treatment for high-risk individuals like the antiviral oral medicine Paxlovid, to prevent severe and critical cases.
When asked if the country is ready for the lifting of the public health emergency, Solante answered in the affirmative saying Covid-19 cases nationwide have become manageable, health facilities are not overwhelmed with admissions, and many are fully vaccinated and have received their booster shots.
Last week, Department of Health officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said the country is prepared in case the WHO ends the declaration of global health emergency due to Covid-19 as Filipinos remain cautious and vigilant and protocols and safeguards are in place anytime infections increase. – PNA