PH gov’t to give 30 Million free face masks to fight Covid-19

The country’s poor families and vulnerable sectors need not worry about complying with the health and safety protocols against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) as the government on Wednesday launched a community distribution of free washable face masks to contain the pandemic.

Dubbed as “Bida Solusyon: MaskVIDA (Mask for Vulnerable and Indigent; Delivered and Available) laban kontra Covid-19”, the campaign of the Department of Health (DOH) seeks to provide about 30 million free face masks to Filipinos.

During the launch at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City, DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III Wednesday said the program seeks to boost the efforts of the both national and local governments to combat the pandemic while providing livelihood to others.

“Proper wearing of face mask reduces the spread of the virus by 85 percent,” Duque said.

Meanwhile, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez said the initiative was in response to the directive of President Rodrigo Duterte to provide free face masks to each Filipino household.

Lopez said the reusable masks are produced by the small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) assisted by the shared service facility (SSF) program of the DTI, as well as the dressmakers from Technical Education and Skills Development (TESDA).

The province of Rizal has initially received about 20,000 non-medical grade washable and reusable face masks along with the hygiene kits and Covid-19 testing kits from the DOH.

Mitigating Covid-19 impacts

At the sidelines of the event, the officials of the Covid-19 Coordinated Operations to Defeat Epidemic (CODE) team, the National Task Force (NTF) against Covid-19, and the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF) have discussed further coordination to mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

National Action Plan (NAP) deputy chief implementer Vince Dizon said a government’s whole-of-nation approach is vital in the country’s fight against Covid-19 that includes testing, tracing, isolation and treatment.

Dizon said the government is set to build a mega quarantine facility in Rizal Province through the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

 Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año cited the effective contact tracing and localized lockdowns in Cebu City could be applied in areas under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ).

“As we look at the Cebu City, there is an improvement in number [of cases],” he said

He said imposing fines for every violation of preventive measures and health protocols could be helpful to contain the spread of the virus.

Año reiterated his advice to the Filipinos to practice the minimum health standards inside their homes such proper handwashing, particularly if one member of the family is working outside or has essential travel.

He said the treatment for critical and severe cases should be maximized to reduce the number of fatality rates among the infected ones through the “One Hospital Command” system.

The top DILG official also said those tested positive for Covid-19 should avoid home quarantine.

“If we could bring all the positive cases in the isolation facilities—that is how we decrease the number or stop this contamination,” he said.

He also said the decision to revert Metro Manila, Cavite, Bulacan, Rizal, and Laguna to MECQ was due to the spike of Covid-19 infections which, as of Wednesday, hit 143,749.

Año said every local government should support the healthcare workers by providing them with accommodation, shuttle services, additional incentives, and recruit more health workers

“Doing all of these is how we can prevent the spread of the disease and reduce the number of cases,” he said. (PNA)

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