Amid reports of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2, which is the causative agent of COVID-19, being airborne, the Department of Health (DOH) stressed the importance of wearing a mask as part of the prescribed minimum health standards to ensure utmost protection from COVID-19.
According to Dr. Edsel Salvana, a member of the DOH Technical Advisory Group and Director of the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at the National Institutes of Health at the University of the Philippines Manila, the virus is already assumed to be airborne when conducting aerosol generating procedures in hospitals.
“This is why our healthcare workers use N95 masks and conduct strict infection prevention and control measures,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Sight-Vergeire said during the July 7 Beat COVID-19 Virtual Presser.
Although more definitive studies are necessary for non-healthcare settings, the public is enjoined to wear masks and practice the minimum health standards to reduce the transmission of the virus.
“Kami po ay nananawagan sa inyong lahat na gawin lagi ang ating minimum health standards, katulad ng pagsusuot ng mask, madalas na paghuhugas ng kamay, physical distancing, at iba pa lalung-lalo na sa mga lugar na sarado, naka-aircon, at walang maayos na ventilation,” Singh-Vergeire emphasized.
“Marami pa rin ang nakakalimot sa ating minimum health protocols. Maaaring ang kailangan natin ay hindi ang pagbalik sa Enhanced Community Quarantine kundi maging mas mahigpit sa pagpapatupad at pagsunod sa mga itinakdang health protocol,” she added.
The effectiveness of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as face masks, face shields, and physical distancing must not be underestimated, the Health Spokesperson emphasized. According to studies, wearing masks lowers the chance of transmission by up to 85%, while maintaining a physical distance of one meter reduces the risk of transmission by 80%.
Singh-Vergeire also appealed to the public to work together in protecting the vulnerable sector. “Patuloy nating pangalagaan ang kalusugan ng mga vulnerable persons sa ating tahanan, katulad ng mga senior citizens, mga maysakit, at mga maliliit na bata. Nagawa na ho natin ito nitong mga nakaraang buwan, ituloy lang po natin kahit lumalabas tayo.”
The Health Official further called the public to become part of the solution by staying vigilant and following the prescribed health protocols. “Huwag po tayong maging kampante. Sa halip, patuloy po tayong maging responsable. Alagaan po natin ang ating mga sarili, ang ating mga mahal sa buhay, at ang iba pang myembro ng ating komunidad. Sa kamay po nating lahat nakasalalay ang kaligtasan at kagalingan ng bawat isa,” Singh-Vergeire concluded.
Stay updated with news and information from the the Department of Health by visiting their website at doh.gov.ph.