Mandaue health exec: Optional wearing of face mask may lead to Covid surge

·2 min read

MAKING the wearing of face masks optional in public places might lead to another surge of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) cases as there are some people who do not observe physical distancing, a local health official said.

In a phone interview on Thursday, September 1, Dr. Dominga Obenza, head of the Mandaue City Health Office (MCHO), said the optional wearing of face mask might not be a good idea considering that Covid vaccines have not yet been proven to give a person a 100 percent protection from the virus.

"That is the reason why we have boosters to give us added protection and somewhat maintain our herd immunity from the virus aside from being vaccinated," said Obenza.

Obenza told SunStar Cebu that the policy involving the wearing of face masks "optional" in public places is risky, as there is no assurance that people will religiously obey the one-meter physical distancing.

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama signed Executive Order (EO) 5, making face masks "non-obligatory" in open spaces on Wednesday, August 31, 2022.

The top officials of the neighboring cities of Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu also expressed their intention to adopt Rama's EO.

Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes said he will call on the City Council to consult health officials and other involved agencies to consider amending the city's face mask ordinance 15-2020-1531, which imposes a fine of P5,000 to those who do not wear face masks in public places.

Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Junard “Ahong” Chan also said on Wednesday, August 31, that he will adopt the EO of Mayor Rama as soon as he receives a copy of it.

Several medical practitioners have stated that physical distancing helps limit the spread of Covid, which can be acquired by inhaling an infected person's respiratory fluids through talking and sneezing, among others.

Obenza added that for the government to drop the face mask policy completely, Covid vaccination must be 100 percent effective against the virus.

Data from the MCHO as of August 31 showed that about 37,281 individuals or 148.22 percent had already taken their first booster shots, while 35,349 or 140.54 percent had their second booster based on their 25,152 eligible population.

Despite all this, Obenza said many in the city are still not vaccinated.

Lifting the face mask policy requirement in public places will make the unvaccinated ones more likely to get infected with the virus, said Obenza.

Obenza reiterated that while not all people have submitted themselves to vaccination, it is best to observe the minimum health protocols, including the wearing of face masks, especially in closed areas, and follow the guidelines of the Inter-Agency Task Force.

In Cebu Province, the optional wearing of face masks outdoors has already been allowed after Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia issued EO 16 in June this year. (HIC)