Even as the COVID-19 threat in the country seems to be easing, the Department of Health (DOH) urged the Local Government Units (LGUs) to strictly follow the mandatory wearing of face masks.

In Laging Handa briefing on Saturday, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire reiterated that LGUs should act in accordance with the uniform health protocol set by the government against the COVID-19.

“So, para po tayo ay manatiling protektado, ito pong face mask na ito ay nakapagbigay sa atin ng benepisyo for the past two years. Ituloy lang po natin,” Vergeire said.

The reiteration came after Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia issued an executive order making the wearing of masks optional in open spaces and well-ventilated areas in the province.

Citing studies from other countries, Vergeire explained that other countries that have removed the mask mandate have eventually experienced a spike in their cases.

“Kailangan po lahat ng local governments, lahat tayo, iisa lang ang protocol na susundin natin. Kailangan sabay-sabay tayo at magtulung-tulong,” Vergeire added.

Vergeire noted that the country is not yet ready to lift its mask policies due to risks posed by the emergence of subvariants, low vaccination rates in some areas of the country, and low uptake of boosters.

“So we take one day at a time, hinay-hinay po tayo. Let us not be impatient. Dadating tayo sa time na mawawala na rin ang face mask. But we need to manage the cases muna sa ngayon. Vergeire stressed. (JAFD/PIA-IDPD)