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Duterte is ‘not inclined’ to repeal the face mask law just yet.

MANILA, Philippines โ€” Despite a drop in new coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases and hospitalizations in the Philippines, President Rodrigo R. Duterte stated he is “not ready” to abolish the face mask requirement just yet.

Duterte remarked in a prerecorded public address aired Tuesday morning that he is not interested in loosening the face mask policy just yet because it decreases the risk of Covid-19 spreading.

He does not, however, see a problem with removing face shields in favor of masks and plastic barriers.

“I’m not ready to order the mask to be removed, but yung plastic na ano cover, siguro, puwede na ‘yun.” (However, the plastic covers are no longer required.) “However,” he added, “it has done a lot of goodโ€ฆprevented the pollution from spreading.” โ€˜

Duterte voiced concern over a new Covid-19 type discovered in Israel, saying it could someday make its way to the Philippines.

“Matagal pa ito (This will be here for a while) and there have been reportsโ€ฆ

I’m not sure if it’s subject to confirmation na may bagong (that a new variety of) Covid has been discovered in Israel, but whether we like it or not, kung totoo ‘yan (if it’s real), it will reach the shores of our country again,” he continued.

For his part, Secretary of the Department of Health (DOH) Francisco Duque III agreed that masking should remain a vital public health strategy.

Last Monday, Israel’s health ministry stated that two people in the country had been infected with a novel Covid-19 variety, which is a mix of the two Omicron BA.1 and BA.2 subvariants.

Officials in Israel, on the other hand, said they are “not very concerned” that they may lead to serious instances.

The Department of Health stated that the public should not be frightened by the arrival of tourists because safety and surveillance measures are still in place.

The new Covid-19 type is currently being investigated, according to Health Undersecretary Ma. Rosario Vergeire, who also stated that the World Health Organization (WHO) has made no additional declaration on the topic.

According to the DOH’s most recent case bulletin, 3,572 new cases of (Covid-19) were reported in the country between March 14 and March 20.

Violators are still being prosecuted.

Despite the relaxation of Covid-19 limitations, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) warned the enforcement on violators of basic health regulations will continue.

“We can see that there was a slight increase in the number of arrests of those not wearing face masks in the last two weeks, reaching 90,585, with 931 apprehensions for mass gathering violations and 34,000 for the unnecessary violation of no physical distancing,” DILG Secretary Eduardo Ao told President Duterte.

Due to the continuous decline of Covid-19 instances across the country, the total number of regions under granular lockdowns has decreased considerably, according to Ao.

“We can observe that there are only a few locations in the country that are under granular lockdown. Granular lockdowns are only in place in three cities/municipalities or five barangays. And seven, seven granular lockdowns, with just two, two families and two individuals affected in the NCR,” Ao explained in Filipino.

He also hoped that the lower trend in Covid-19 instances in the country would continue, as many LGUs under Alert Level 1 now have the potential to improve their economic and livelihood activities.

For the rest of March, Metro Manila and 47 additional locations are on Alert Level 1.

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