DOH says face mask policy still implemented amid circulating 2020 advisory

June 17, 2022 - 11:03 AM
Bus commuters
People wearing face masks as protection against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) wait to ride a bus going to provinces, a day before the New Year's Eve, at a bus terminal in Paranaque City, Metro Manila, Philippines, December 30, 2021. (Reuters/Lisa Marie David)

The Department of Health clarified that a circulating advisory on face masks is already old and no longer applicable under current circumstances.

The DOH issued this clarification on Facebook on June 16 after some of their old advisories were making rounds again online.

“An old advisory on the use of masks from February 8, 2020 is circulating again. It advises healthy individuals not to wear masks, and limits the public on wearing surgical and N95 masks,” the agency said.

“The Department of Health (DOH) clarifies that this advice no longer applies to the current situation. We now know that the COVID-19 virus may be transmitted through the air,” it added.

DOH advisory on June 16, 2022 (Facebook/Department of Health)

The DOH also added a copy of this advisory on its statement. It was released way back in February 2020, during which SARS-CoV-2 was yet to be considered a global threat.

In the copy, part of the rules reads: “People in good health do not need to use face masks.”

At that time, the proper washing of hands is already part of the minimum health protocols.

“In all settings, masks should be used in combination with frequent hand hygiene with alcohol-based hand rubs or soap/water,” DOH said back then.

DOH advisory on February 10, 2022 via Pangasinan Provincial Health Office uploaded on February 10, 2020 (Facebook/Pangasinan Provincial Health Office )

In the new statement, the DOH emphasized that face masks should always be worn even in areas under COVID-19 Alert Level 1, the most relaxed alert level status.

“Hence, the correct health advice today is to always wear a face mask even under Alert Level 1, and especially when going to confined spaces with poor ventilation, crowded spaces with no physical distancing, and close-contact settings,” the agency said.

DOH further reminded the public to continue observing the minimum mandated public health standards such as wearing face masks, getting vaccinated and boosted, and self-solation upon onset of symptoms.

The department then urged the public to obtain and share information from official sources only.

The World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 a pandemic on March 12, 2020 (Philippine time) after it assessed 118,000 cases in 114 countries.

During that time, the DOH reported a total of 49 infections and two deaths related to the disease.

READ: WHO declared the COVID-19 a pandemic but what does it mean? 

This was a far low figure than the current COVID-19 statistics of the country.

On June 16, DOH recorded 425 additional cases, thus bringing the total to 3,694,529.

Of these, 3,462 are active, 3,630,606 have recovered and 60,461 have died.