THE Metro Manila Council is not keen on imposing mandatory face masks, amid the rising cases of COVID-19 in the country.
San Juan City mayor and MMC president Francis Zamora said based on studies and data from the health department, the national capital region remained at the low-risk category for the virus.
He said that presently, the hospital utilization rate at 29 percent.
“So that is within the low-risk category. At ang positivity rate po natin ay 25 percent…ngunit karamihan po talaga ay mild lamang,” he said.
(So that is within the low-risk category. The positivity rate is 25 percent, but most of them are just mild cases)
Asked for the reaction of several local government units implementing various protocols, Zamora said that the LGUs have the right to do so.
“Yes, nakikita natin ang ibang mga lungsod ay nagkakaroon ng mask mandate sa kanilang mga lugar but overall in Metro Manila, in coordination with the (Department of Health), ay tayo po ay nasa low risk category at Alert Level 1, at ang pagsusuot po ng face mask ay optional pa rin sa ilalim ng Alert Level 1 na ito.
(Yes, we are seeing that some cities have imposed various mask mandates, but overall in Metro Manila, in coordination with the DOH, we are at the low risk category at Alert Level 1, and under that category face masks are optional.)
Manila has made the wearing of face masks mandatory inside the city hall.
Quezon City, on the other hand, advised the residents to wear face masks, especially in crowded areas.
Baguio City earlier imposed the wearing of face masks in all establishments and crowded places.
According to Zamora, they did not even discuss on the possibility of imposing mask mandates during their last meeting.
“Pero tandaan po natin, ang mga local government units po ay may autonomy. Ibig sabihin, on their own, they can prescribe, through ordinances or executive orders, the use of face masks,” he noted.
(But let us remember that the local government units have autonomy. It means that on their own, they can prescribe, through ordinances or executive orders, the use of facemasks)
“So, we will monitor the situation, and umaasa naman po tayo na hindi na nga po tumaas ang bilang ng mga kaso,” he said.
(We will continue to monitor the situation and we are hoping that the number of cases no longer increase)
Zamora meanwhile said that the low positivity and hospitalization rates was due to the high vaccination rate in the metro.
“That is the positive effect of the vaccination. Overall, in Metro Manila there is a 127 percent target population that were vaccinated,” he said.
Earlier, Aklan 2nd District Rep. Teodorico Haresco appealed to visitors of the world-famous Boracay Island to strictly follow health protocols, amid the top tourist destination seeing a peak in the rise of the COVID-19 virus.
Independent research firm OCTA Research said that the Covid-19 positivity rates in some provinces surged in the past week, with Aklan registering the highest at 56.9 percent as of May 13.
“We are alarmed by the recent data indicating a surge of COVID-19 cases in Aklan, and other provinces with high tourism visits in the past week,” Haresco said.
According to Haresco, the local government units are strengthening efforts to implement basic health protocols and provide services to affected communities.
He admitted that while the local economy is booming due to the increased tourism in the Island of Boracay, it should be carefully balanced with the health protocols.
“While we recognize the resilience of our tourism industry, we also appeal to tourists to be conscientious and prudent in following the basic health protocols so we can protect everyone from harm,” Haresco said.
He did not state though if visitors should be required to wear masks.
Aside from Aklan the provinces with high positivity rate include Camarines Sur, with 46.5 percent, Rizal, 44.4 percent and Quezon, 42.7 percent.
OCTA Research fellow Dr. Guido David said that Metro Manila’s positivity rate, or the number of individuals who yielded positive results from among those who were tested for the virus, increased by 2.7 points from the 22.7 percent registered last May 6.
This well exceeds the five percent threshold laid down by the World Health Organization.
Catherine R. Cueto