MANILA (Xinhua): The Philippines on Thursday (April 2) required all those living in areas under enhanced community quarantine to wear face masks or other forms of protective equipment when they leave their homes to slow the spread of Covid-19.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles announced the new measure in a virtual media briefing as the Philippines reported 322 new cases of Covid-19, bringing the total number of the confirmed cases to 2,633.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque said at the briefing the death toll from the coronavirus disease has risen to 107 as of Thursday afternoon. He added that 51 patients have recovered from the disease.
The Department of Health earlier advised that only sick people wear a mask to lessen the chances of infecting others, saying the frontline health workers have the greatest need for masks.
In his daily briefing, Nograles said the inter-agency task force in a resolution "adopts the policy of mandatory wearing by all residents of face masks, earloop masks, indigenous, reusable or do-it-yourself masks, face shields, handkerchiefs, or such other protective equipment that can effectively lessen the transmission of Covid-19, whenever allowed to go out of their residences pursuant to existing guidelines issued by the national government."
Already, Nograles said that quarantine and treatment facilities in Metro Manila are being readied in case a large-scale community transmission occurs.
More than 75 per cent of the Philippines' confirmed Covid-19 cases are in Metro Manila and nearby provinces, a dense urban area that is also the largest contributor to the country's economy.
"By now all of us are aware of the gravity of the threat before us. This is not an ordinary disease, which is why the government is doing everything to prevent it from spreading," he said.
Moreover, Nograles appealed to establishments like supermarkets and groceries to extend their operating hours to a maximum of 12 hours to ensure that residents in areas under quarantine will be able to secure needed supplies while practicing social distancing protocols.
"Supermarkets, public and private wet markets, grocery stores, agri-fishery supply stores, pharmacies, drug stores, and other retail establishments engaged in the business of selling basic necessities are strongly encouraged to extend their store operations to a maximum of 12 hours," Nograles added. - Xinhua