Face masks latest to move to new normal: DOH

Foreigners arrive at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in the city of Pasay on February 10, 2022, the first day the country reopened its borders to fully vaccinated international travelers. Jonathan Cellona, ​​ABS-CBN News/Dossier

MANILA — Face masks will still be needed as the government prepares to transition into the new normal, the health ministry said on Friday.

The public will have to retain self-regulation if Alert Level 1 or the new normal is imposed, as maximum capacity for indoor and outdoor areas and public transport will be cut, said Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire .

“Naghahanda tayo para dito sa sinasabi nating new normal. Ang Alert Level 1 po ito po the new normal natin sa ating bansa. Kailangan ma-enable natin ang environment natin bago palagakin ing ating kababayan to ganitong sitwasyon,” she said. when asked if facilities and hospitals were ready for Alert Level 1.

(We are preparing for what we call the new normal. Alert Level 1 is the new normal in our country. We need to activate our environment before allowing the public out in this situation.)

“What would be held back would be our self-regulation, we will always follow minimum public health standards… Tayo po ay naghahanda (We are preparing) so that we can allow these environments to be safe spaces for our citizens.”

Security seals and high vaccination rates are among the requirements for an area to move to Alert Level 1, Vergeire said.

The new normal can only be sustained if the public self-regulates and continues to adhere to minimum health protocols such as appropriate wearing of face masks, respecting physical distancing and ventilation, Vergeire added.

“I think the safeguards should still be there kung magkakaroon man tayo ng (if we implement) the transition and the easing of restrictions I think the mask mandate will be the last to go because it will protect all of us kung saka-sakali not only from COVID-19 but also other respiratory infections,” she said.

COVID-19 can be declared endemic in the Philippines if cases are “stable” and “predictable”, Vergeire said.

“Kung ang mataas na pagbabakuna natin na manageable, predictable, stable and stable in cases. Hindi pa ho natin nakikita yan. Ang ing kaso di pa natin matatawag na stable yan,” she said.

(We can say it’s endemic if we have a high vaccination rate that the cases are manageable, predictable, stable. We haven’t. We can’t say the cases are stable.)

“Nothing is certain at this point, di natin alam kailan magkakaroon ulit ng pagtaas ng kaso, kung may bagong variant darating. Ang ginagawa po ng gobyerno natin ngayon…nagta-transition po tayo pinaghahandaan po natin. We now have this transition and planning for a new normal banishment.

(Nothing is certain at this point, we don’t know when cases will rise again, if a new variant will arrive. What the government is doing right now… we are transitioning, we are preparing. We now have this transition and planning for what should be the new normal.)

All parts of the country are at low to moderate risk of COVID-19 cases except Soccksargen, Vergeire said.

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