Duque recommends extended mask mandate due to rising COVID infections, monkeypox threat

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 23) — Outgoing Health Secretary Francisco Duque III is recommending the extension of the mandatory wearing of face masks in the country even after the end of the month.

In an interview with CNN Philippines' The Source, Duque insisted that face masks still significantly provide protection from COVID-19 infection as cases continue to rise in Metro Manila and some parts of the country.

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"Kung ako tatanungin (If they were to ask me), I will recommend that it should be extended because we see there's already an increasing number of cases. Anything that will be the opposite of that is rather strange," Duque said. "Kung tumataas ka bakit ka magluluwag? (If cases are increasing why would you loosen protocols?)"

"Dapat ipagpatuloy na lang dahil maraming value-add naman ang masking, hindi lang laban sa COVID-19, laban sa influenza, bacterial pneumonia," he said.

[Translation: We should continue the mandate because masking has a lot of added value not just against COVID-19 but also against influenza, bacterial pneumonia.]

Duque added that masks can also prevent the spread of the monkeypox virus, which fortunately is not yet present in the country.

The first case of monkeypox in Southeast Asia was recently reported in Singapore, while another confirmed case of the viral disease that is considered a less severe cousin of smallpox has been found in South Korea.

The US CDC earlier recommended that people infected with monkeypox wear a mask, because of its potential to spread through respiratory secretions. Health workers and those in close contact with an infected person are also urged to wear one for their protection.