COVID-19 Crisis: President Marcos approves optional use of face masks outdoors

After much online buzz that was created in reaction to the recommendation by the Inter-Agency Task Force of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr., finally approved an executive order (EO) that allows the optional use of face masks outdoors according to an announcement published through the Philippine News Agency (PNA). In other words, what the IATF recommended is quickly becoming a new policy but there are key details that need to be read closely.

To put things in perspective, posted below is the excerpt from the PNA article. Some parts in boldface…

President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has approved 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.

“Naglabas po tayo today ng Executive Order No. 3 (We have released EO No. 3) allowing voluntary wearing of face masks in outdoor settings and reiterating the continued implementation of minimum public health standards during the state of public health emergency relating to the Covid-19 pandemic,” Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles announced in a Palace press briefing.

She said the EO, signed by the President on Monday, will be effective immediately.

This order shall take effect immediately upon its publication in the OG [Official Gazette] or newspaper of general circulation. Nasa OG na po siya (It has been published in the OG),” she said.

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

Cruz-Angeles said physical distancing and other minimum public health standards (MPHS) will also continue to be strictly enforced.

“The voluntary wearing of face masks in open spaces and non-crowded outdoor areas with good ventilation is hereby allowed provided that not fully vaccinated individuals, senior citizens and immunocompromised individuals are highly encouraged to wear their masks and physical distancing will be observed at all times,” she added.

The EO still requires face masks to be worn in indoor, private or public establishments, including in public transportation by land, air or sea and in outdoor settings where physical distancing cannot be maintained.

“Tuloy pa rin po ang other (We will continue adhering to other) minimum public health standards intended to effectively prevent and minimize the spread of Covid-19 in the country. It shall continue to be implemented consistent with the principles of shared accountability, evidence-based decision making, socio economic equity and rights-based approach,” Cruz-Angeles said.

She said the EO also directs the Department of Health (DOH) to update the MPHS guidelines.

Open to feedback

Cruz-Angeles said the voluntary wearing of face masks will be implemented in phases or stages to gather feedback from health authorities.

We’re doing this in stages, in phases so that we can have feedback on whether or not these new policies are working and how to make them more efficient so that hopefully by the end of the year we might be able to be voluntarily masked indoors as well,” she said.

She said the policy will be reviewed if the voluntary face mask policy would cause an increase in Covid-19 cases.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: What is your reaction to this new development? Do you believe that the entire Philippines and its many local government units (LGUs) are ready to comply with the new policy approved by President Marcos? If you have not been vaccinated for COVID-19, do you seriously see yourself using face masks extensively in the future? Do you think that the anti-vaccine fanatics will spread fear and distort information related to the new policy that allows the optional use of face masks in outdoor settings? With the way things are right now, have you grown sick and tired of using face masks each time you go outdoors?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

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For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists, NO to reckless publishers and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the growing South Metro Manila Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673

COVID-19 Crisis: Optional face mask use outdoors recommended by IATF

Are you sick and tired of wearing face masks outdoors as a means of protection from COVID-19? Did you hear about the Cebu City government’s bold move on having voluntary use of face masks on a trial period? Looks like things will change here in the Philippines and its efforts on rising up from the pandemic’s effects as the Inter-Agency Task Force of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) recommended the voluntary use of face masks in open spaces by year-end, according to a GMA Network news report pointing to Malacañang and the Department of Health (DOH).

To put things in perspective, posted below is the excerpt from the GMA news report. Some parts in boldface…

The Inter-Agency Task Force of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) has recommended the voluntary wearing of face masks in open spaces by year-end amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Malacañang said Wednesday.

In a press briefing, Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said the IATF’s recommendation is to make optional the wearing of face mask in open spaces or non-crowded outdoor areas with good ventilation, provided that the COVID-19 booster uptake in the country improves.

“Doon sa IATF, ang kanilang rekomendasyon ay pag-liberalize ng ating mask wearing mandate and make mask wearing outdoors voluntary across the country,” she said in a press briefing.

(IATF’s recommendation is to liberalize our mask wearing mandate and make mask wearing outdoors voluntary across the country.)

Angeles stressed that this is not yet a policy, but the pilot testing of the optional face mask use will be conducted towards the end of the year.

“Ang tuluyan na lifting ng mandatory mask mandate ay ipi-pilot towards the last quarter of 2022, provided na may improvement doon sa COVID booster vaccination coverage,” she said.

(The lifting of the mandatory mask mandate will be piloted towards the last quarter of 2022, provided there is an improvement in the COVID booster vaccination coverage.)

Senior citizens and immunocompromised individuals are, however, still highly encouraged to continue wearing face masks, she added.

‘Verbally approved’ by Marcos

Department of Health (DOH) officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire confirmed such a suggestion by the IATF, saying that President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has already “verbally approved” it.

There is a verbal approval from the President when they talk to Secretary Benhur from DILG,” she said, referring to the Secretary Benhur Abalos of the Department of the Interior and Local Government.

Vergeire said Marcos’ executive order on the matter may be released “immediately,” but he has not given a timeline as to when exactly.

“Everything is being prepared. Nakipagusap na rin naman po tayo. We’ll just wait for the issuance. But definitely, and we think based from the feedback, talagang pabor naman ang Presidente, so the executive order can be issued immediately,” she said.

As you can see above, the recommendation of the IATF is related to the state of COVID-19 booster shots and the efforts to have more people immunized. There is still much work to be done on the part of the national authorities, the provincial authorities and local authorities to have more people vaccinated and boosted. What I find very notable was the Press Secretary’s mention of a pilot testing phase of the optional use of face masks which will be conducted towards the end of 2022. That pilot testing is very related to what Cebu City’s government pushed for. Also notable was the mentioned verbal approval of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. (who is overseas as of this writing) according to the DOH’s officer-in-charge Vergeire.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: What is your reaction to this new development? Are you eager to see IATF’s recommendation of voluntary outdoor face mask use officially become policy? Do you think the IATF’s recommendation was somehow influenced by Cebu City’s bold move? Are there enough people in your local community who got boosted for COVID-19? Do you think that the anti-vaccine fanatics will distort the meaning of the IATF’s recommendation?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. If you want to support my website, please consider making a donation. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/ and on Instagram athttps://www.instagram.com/authorcarlocarrasco/.

For more South Metro Manila community news and developments, come back here soon. Also say NO to fake news, NO to irresponsible journalism, NO to misinformation, NO to plagiarists, NO to reckless publishers and NO to sinister propaganda when it comes to news and developments. For South Metro Manila community developments, member engagements, commerce and other relevant updates, join the growing South Metro Manila Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/342183059992673

COVID-19 Crisis: More boosted patients – including the comorbid aged 18 to 49 – declared eligible for 2nd booster shot

Finally, the Department of Health (DOH) declared that more patients, specifically comorbid patients aged 18 to 49 years old as well as all patients aged 50-above, are eligible to avail of the 2nd booster shot for COVID-19, according to a Philippine News Agency (PNA) article. Take note that almost 16 million people here in the Philippines received their 1st booster shots while the 2nd booster shot was issued to a very specific, few types of patients. As such, only a small number of the boosted patients managed to get a 2nd booster shot.

To put things in perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the PNA. Some parts in boldface…

All adults aged 50 years old and above and individuals aged 18 years to 49 years with comorbidities can now receive a second booster or fourth dose of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccine.

This was after the Department of Health (DOH), through the National Covid-19 Vaccination Operations Center, issued the guidelines for its nationwide rollout.

In a statement Tuesday night, the DOH said the rollout follows the expansion of the emergency use authorization issued by the Food and Drug Administration, which allows certain Covid-19 vaccine brands to be used as second booster doses in the expanded population groups.

It also follows the recommendations provided by the Health Technology Assessment Council.

Pfizer (Tozinameran) and Moderna (Spikevax) are the only mRNA vaccine brands that could be used as a second booster shot, which must be administered at least four months after the first booster or the third dose was given.

Eligible individuals may receive their second booster shot from their local government units (LGUs) or vaccination sites nearest to them.

They are advised to bring their vaccination card and a valid ID.

A medical certificate is not required, even for individuals with comorbidities.

However, medical screeners or doctors at the vaccination sites are authorized to assess and determine whether an individual could or could not receive the second booster shot.

On Tuesday, the DOH launched the PinasLakas booster campaign across the country.

Vaccination activities will be conducted in schools, malls, plazas, and places of worship under the campaign, making Covid-19 vaccines and booster shots more accessible to the people.

As for the house-to-house vaccination, concerned individuals are encouraged to get in touch with their LGUs for guidelines and schedules.

“As vaccine immunity wanes over time, we are dedicated to helping our people remain protected against Covid-19. We are making it easier for as many of our people to avail of the primary series and boosters, including second boosters,” DOH Officer in Charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said.

Vaccination, paired with adherence to the minimum public health standards remains the “best defense” amid the pandemic, she added.

The above report ended stating that more than 71 million patients have been fully vaccinated (2 doses of most COVID-19 vaccines) as of July 25, 2022, and less than 16 million patients got their booster shots as of July 17, 2022. Recently it was reported that the number of patients who received the 2nd booster shot totaled 1.1 million.

This is so far the best news about the nation’s COVID-19 matters released so far. There are so many millions of fully vaccinated patients counted and only a minority of them got the 1st booster shot, while an even smaller minority of the boosted patients got the 2nd booster shot. Take note that there are some patients who received their first booster shot more than six months ago and have been waiting for the green light to get their 2nd booster shot. It took the DOH and other national authorities long but they finally made the moves to accommodate more patients. Clearly, making 2nd booster shots more available to the boosted patients of the Philippines is the right move.

No matter what the anti-vaccine fanatics out there say, COVID-19 is still the main problem, not vaccines and not vaccination. Clearly the anti-vaccine fanatics don’t have any solutions to the COVID-19 crisis. The anti-vaccine fanatics themselves are the additional problems for the entire nation which so happens to be connected to the Internet.

Let me end this by asking you readers: Are you a boosted patient who has been eagerly waiting for clearance to get the 2nd booster shot? If you are, how long has it been since you got the first booster shot and how long have you been waiting? Which brand of vaccine do you want for your 2nd booster shot, Pfizer or Moderna? Do you believe that the anti-vaccine fanatics of the Philippines have been hounding vaccinated patients to make vaccination efforts nationwide fail miserably?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. If you want to support my website, please consider making a donation. Feel free to contact me with a private message. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me on Twitter at  @HavenorFantasy as well as on Tumblr at https://carlocarrasco.tumblr.com/ and on Instagram athttps://www.instagram.com/authorcarlocarrasco/.