No need to reimpose mandatory face mask rule: Philippines department of health

Officer-in-charge Maria Vergeire said the health department has already submitted their recommendation to not bring back Covid-19 restrictions.

Zacarian Sarao

Zacarian Sarao

Philippine Daily Inquirer


May 3, 2023

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) said on Tuesday that reinstating the face mask mandate was unnecessary, and people should adapt to the virus without fluctuating policies.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Monday floated the idea that the government might bring back the mandatory face masks following the recent rise in COVID-19 cases, depending on the recommendations of the DOH and Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).

DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire, in a press briefing, said the health department and other members of the IATF have already submitted their recommendation not to bring back COVID-19 restrictions, including mandatory face masks.

“We already have recommended to the Office of the President, based on the agreements coming from the IATF discussions na hindi naman kailangan ibalik ang mandato, kailangan lang talaga ma-shift na natin ang mindset ng ating mga kababayan,” said Vergeire.

(We already have recommended to the Office of the President, based on the agreements coming from the IATF discussions, that there is no need to return the mandate, we need to shift the mindset of our countrymen.)

Viral presence and self-protection

“Tataas bababa ang mga kaso dito sa ating bansa dahil andito ang virus, hindi mawawala and the virus will mutate and produce variants every now and then,” she added.

(Cases will increase and decrease in our country because the virus is here, it will not disappear, and the virus will mutate and produce variants every now and then.)

Vergeire explained that what the public needs is for each individual to know how to protect themselves and their family — by choosing to wear a mask when going to high-risk places, especially if they are unvaccinated, immunocompromised, senior citizens, or pregnant.

“Hindi po kailangan na back and forth ang policies natin, kailangan po lahat tayo ay magtulong-tulong para tayo ay makaalpas sa ganitong sitwasyon,” said Vergeire.

(Our policies do not need to be back and forth, we all need to help each other to overcome this situation.)

Risk tolerance

Vergeire, in the same briefing, explained that the current increase in COVID-19 infections does not compare to the numbers recorded during the height of the pandemic in 2020 and 2021.

“Kailangang maitaas ang antas ng ating risk tolerance sa COVID-19. Itong pagtaas ng kaso hindi nag translate sa mas maraming hospital admissions, and hindi rin po siya nag translate sa mas maraming severe and critical cases and even deaths,” said Vergeire.

(We need to raise the level of our risk tolerance to COVID-19. This increase in cases did not translate to more hospital admissions, and it did not translate to more severe and critical cases and even deaths.)

Low risk

“Nananatili sa low risk ang ating health utilization rate because of our wall of immunity dahil po sa pagbabakuna,” she added.

(Our health utilization rate remains at low risk because of the wall of immunity due to vaccination.)

Based on the DOH’sCOVID-19 online tracker, as of April 30, the country currently has 5,875 active COVID-19 cases.

The has so far logged a total of 4,093,421 cases, with 4,021,102 recoveries and 66,444 deaths.

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