The Department of Health has appealed to the public to “continue adhering to our layers of protection, such as wearing face masks,” following its report indicating 10 new cases of EG.5, a new Omicron subvariant, despite President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. having declared an end to the country’s state of public health emergency and lifting the mandate on mask wearing.
In a statement, the DOH urged the public to continue wearing face masks, isolating when sick, and ensuring good airflow. People were also urged to raised “their risk tolerance against COVID-19” and update their vaccine with booster shots to remain protected against the disease.
The latest biosurveillance report of the DOH from July 14 to 25, showed 10 new cases linked to EG.5, a subvariant of Omicron XBB.1.9.2, which were discovered in positive individuals whose samples underwent genome sequencing.
The World Health Organization classified EG.5 currently circulating in 49 nations, as a variant under monitoring on July 19, although according to the DOH, there is no current evidence that points to it as more severe compared to the original Omicron variant.
The same biosurveillance report identified Omicron subvariants XBB.2.3 and XBB.1.16 as the dominant strains in circulation in the country, accounting for half, or 87 out of the 160 samples sequenced.
Mask wearing is no longer required in most places and it is entirely up to individuals to decide if they should continue to protect themselves from the risk of COVID infections by continuing to use masks in places the deem risky. For those who are still considering wearing masks, the rule of thumb is to use it in places that are crowded and have inadequate natural ventilation. Mask wearing is also highly encouraged for those who are not feeling well and could not be prevented from going out, as consideration for others who could be infected with whatever it is that is making them unwell.
Let us continue to remain vigilant, safe, and considerate as we navigate this post-pandemic world, and always remember that an ounce of prevention in the form of a simple face mask is still worth a pound of cure.*