Govt. calls on public to wear mask at home

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 15) — Wearing face mask at home is a must to help stem the spike in COVID-19 cases, health officials said on Monday, as they noted rising coronavirus clusters in households.

During a virtual briefing on Monday, officials from the Department of the Interior and Local Government and Department of Health encouraged the public to still observe minimum public health standards even if they are inside their houses.

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DILG Usec. Jonathan Malaya said the agency supports this, further stressing the need to wear a face mask, especially since there is now an evident household transmission of the virus.

"Dati ang COVID nakukuha sa workplace, pero ngayon pami-pamilya na. Dahil nagkaroon po ng COVID fatigue ang ating mga kababayan simula nang nagsimula ang immunization program," Malaya said.

[Translation: Before the COVID was spreading through workplaces, but now COVID is transmitted among family members. This is because Filipinos have experienced COVID fatigue since the start of the immunization program.]

Malaya added that if a person is not sure that he is COVID-19 free, then he should wear a face mask at home.

This was backed by DOH Epidemiology Bureau Dir. Alethea de Guzman, who spoke at the same briefing.

De Guzman said this should be considered as an "important" practice, especially if there are elderly or members of the family with comorbidities.

"Kung natatandaan po natin last year, 'yung ni-launch ang BIDA solusyon, ini-encourage natin ang mga communities na kahit sa bahay ay magsuot ng mask...," she said.

[Translation: If you remember last year when we launched BIDA Solusyon, we encouraged them to wear a mask even if they're at home. ]

Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinge, World Health Organization Representative to the Philippines, also discussed this during a briefing late last week.

"That where the new variants have been confirmed, they’re seeing not individual cases in households but practically everybody in the household being infected," he said.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire in December even said that a person can contract the virus from a family member.

"Even if you celebrate nga within the household, there is still that risk of having the infection especially if one of the members of the family goes out to work or maybe went out to the groceries," she said as the government discouraged the public from attending holiday gatherings.

READ: ‘You could kill your loved ones’: DOH, experts warn against holiday gatherings amid pandemic

The Land Transportation Office also implemented a policy requiring people to wear face masks inside a private vehicle even if they come from the same household.

In December, the government started requiring the public to wear a face shield on top of a face mask when going out of their homes.

According to Malaya, imposing lockdown is not enough, Filipinos must also contribute to curbing the spread of the virus by being more responsible.

On Sunday, an independent research group monitoring the health crisis in the country has updated its COVID-19 projection with grimmer figures.

Prof. Guido David of the OCTA Research said new cases nationwide may jump to 8,000 in a day by month-end if the highly transmissible virus is not contained. This may shoot up to around 17,000 to 18,000 by mid-April, he added