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‘Treatment czar’ urges double-masking, enhanced precautions vs COVID-19

'Treatment czar' urges double-masking, enhanced precautions vs COVID-19

MANILA, Philippines — The country’s COVID-19 treatment czar on Thursday encouraged the public to practice enhanced health standards, including the wearing of two face masks, as he admitted that the transmission of the virus is getting out of hand.

Health Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega said OCTA Research Group’s forecast that the daily COVID-19 cases in the Philippines would swell to as much as 11,000 by the end of March would materialize if nothing is done to contain the virus.

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“So, the way I look at it, these are alarm bells…And if you do nothing, we would fall into that, and the assumption is only based on mathematical projections. But more important is how we are going to respond to the increasing crisis right now,” Vega said at a press briefing.

“You have to enhance it (minimum health standards), if there is a double masking, you have to double mask, you have to do all of the things that the minimum health standard requires plus the executive power of the local government units to provide what they call granular lockdowns or zonal containment because this is very effective, and we have seen this last year,” he added.

Vega clarified that his proposal to wear two face masks is just his personal recommendation, not an official stand of the health department. He said a change in behavior towards health and safety measures would allow one to contribute for the common good of the community.

“I was just trying to emphasize enhancing our behavior in public to strictly adhere to public health standards. So, when I said that, it was really a way of a proposal to do it so that you can enhance our actions individually,” the health official said.

“I emphasized it because as you all know the transmissibility or the contagiousness of this virus is getting to be out of hand (sic). And for me, minimum health standards should be enhanced individually. This is an individual responsibility… This is a shared responsibility,” he added.

Vega reminded Filipino to remain in well-ventilated areas and to avoid long interactions with other people. He also cited the importance of “social hygiene” and avoiding crowded places.

Asked about the recommendation to wear face masks inside the house, Vega said the measure should be done by health workers who are staying with the elderly.

“I think it is better if you’re in a bubble and you just mingle among yourselves then you don’t have to wear (a) mask. But if you have a grandmother there and you work as a health care worker and you know very well the pre-clinical phase of COVID, you can easily transmit, so I would advise better to have (a) mask,” he said.

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