Improvised masks, hankies allowed as Philippines mandates face shields vs COVID-19

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 06 2020 11:35 AM

People use face masks as they ride public transportation in Manila, Philippines, Feb. 3, 2020. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA- Millions on lockdown in the Philippines due to the coronavirus pandemic can use improvised face masks whenever they go out of their homes, the country's COVID-19 task force said Monday.

The government last week required everyone covered by the month-long community quarantine to wear any facial protective gear that can "effectively lessen" the spread of COVID-19.

Filipinos don't have to worry about buying a face mask since there are substitutes. Wearing of the facial protective gear will be checked by authorities in checkpoints, said Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, spokesman of the Inter-Agency task Force.

"Di po tayo kailangan bumili ng face mask; kung wala po tayong face mask, pwede po ang panyo, indigenous, reusable o do-it-yourself masks, at face shields," he said in a virtual press briefing.

(We don't have to buy face masks. If you don't have a face mask, you can use a handkerchief, a reusable mask, or a do-it-yourself mask and face shields.)

"Kahit improvised ito o panyo, basta po may pangtakip tayo ng bibig at ilong, pwede po itong gamitin," he said.

(Even if it's improvised or a handkerchief, as long as you have a cover for your mouth and nose, that's fine.)

The supply of face masks is dwindling worldwide as the COVID-19 pandemic claims tens of thousands of lives and forces countries to lock down millions. Officials have urged the public to prioritize health workers and frontliners when it comes to personal protective equipment.

As of Sunday, the Philippines has a total of 3,246 cases of COVID-19 which includes 152 deaths and 64 recoveries.