As Delta Cases Soar, Angelenos Must Keep Face Masks Firmly On

AS THE Delta variant spreads, Angeles City Mayor Carmelo ‘Pogi’ G. Lazatin Jr. reminded all Angelenos to wear face coverings, particularly face masks and shields to limit the spread of the virus.

This came as the country is experiencing a local transmission of the more contagious Delta variant, which first emerged in India and ripped through that country’s health care system at its peak in April. Local government units and health authorities have been scrambling to try and stop the variant from spreading after this triggered a surge in infections across Southeast Asia, most especially Indonesia. As of presstime, some 17 new cases of the highly-contagious Delta coronavirus variant has been detected, raising the total tally to 64, the Department of Health (DoH). Twelve of these additional cases are tagged as local cases. One is a returning overseas Filipino, while four cases are still under verification, the DoH said in its latest advisory. Of the local cases, nine listed an address in Metro Manila, while three were in Calabarzon.Three cases remain active, while 14 were tagged as recovered, the agency noted, adding that the results are being validated by local health offices. Earlier this week, the DoH confirmed there is already a local transmission of the feared Delta variant. Medical groups warned the Philippines may not be able to handle its severe impact, similar to what’s being experienced in Indonesia.

Chief Adviser and Tactician IC Calaguas elaborates that the set minimum public health standards (MPHS) — proper wearing of face mask and face shield, regularly washing or disinfecting hands or high-touch surfaces, observing physical distance of less than one meter from persons outside your households, and ensuring proper ventilation in indoor spaces — are non-pharmacological interventions that, when consistently done and observed altogether, will significantly help reduce risk of COVID-19 transmission and infection. Calaguas further explained that the benefits of using a face shield or face mask or both as published in various studies suggest that one may offer better protection than the other on specific scenarios or depending on the size of particulate matter the protective equipment is blocking. One of the studies further underscores that the use of face shields alone would be inadequate, but the use of both face mask and shield can provide better protection against infections.

A study by Bhaskar and Arun (2020) among community health workers in India, suggests that, after the introduction of face shields to 50 of the health workers who counseled 118,428 persons in May 2020, none of the healthcare workers were infected with COVID-19.

Unfortunately, several people still walk in the streets wearing face masks incorrectly or no masks at all. The Delta variant is not only far more transmissible than its predecessors, but it appears to be more lethal to people of all ages as well. The face mask is compulsory both indoors and outdoors, hence, Angelenos are required to hang onto the face coverings that have become part of our daily lives over the past 16 months in the light of a new wave of infections.

“Just in case,” says Keith Castor, an 18-year-old who has already had one dose of the vaccine. “Covid’s still around and even with the vaccine, there are a lot of infections.”

Walking down one of Angeles City’s public markets, Joanna Macapinlac, 65, has her face covered with a surgical-grade face mask which she wears every day. “I’m in a risk category so I wouldn’t think of dropping it at the moment although I was fully vaccinated two months ago,” she said. Despite being fully vaccinated two months ago, she says she only feels safe at home. I’m not going to take off my mask even when the pandemic ends,” she says.

With new cases of the highly contagious Delta variant spreading rapidly, Delfin Garcia believes that “until 80 or 85 percent of the population is vaccinated, we shouldn’t be taking them off”.

So far, as of July 22, 2021, some 67,508 Angelenos have been jabbed with the first dose while some 23,732 have been fully vaccinated.

Teary-eyed Executive Asst. IV Reina Manuel said, “We’ve lost 314 Angelenos to COVID-19, and if we don’t work together to protect one another, we could see spikes that overwhelm hospitals and public health systems.” “We are taking collective steps to save lives, making sure our local hospitals can provide the care residents rely on, and protect our children so they can enjoy a full range of educational opportunities. Wear a mask, wash your hands, watch your distance when possible, and most importantly, get vaccinated,” Manuel reiterated.

Vaccines remain one of the best methods to prevent severe complications and death from the virus. Vaccinations are the best way to stop the fast-spreading Delta variant of COVID-19, but so far, not enough people have been vaccinated.

“We are relentlessly committed to making vaccinations more accessible and convenient. We have two vaccination centers—-the CCA and ACHS—- and come August our two vaccination mobile clinics for our bedridden senior citizens will be operational. In the meantime, we need everyone, vaccinated or not, to wear masks in crowded indoor settings. We must protect our most vulnerable residents as well as children under 12, who are not yet eligible for vaccinations,” Lazatin stressed.

Lazatin and the city government’s health departments continue to stress the importance of getting a COVID-19 vaccine to add another layer of protection against the virus. According to the Department of Health, vaccines have been shown to reduce hospitalizations due to COVID-19 by 87% percent.

Persons are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series, such as the Pfizer vaccine, 10-12 weeks with AstraZeneca, or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has urged fully vaccinated people to continue wearing masks in the light of the global situation where just 13.4 percent of the world population is fully vaccinated.

Vaccine manufacturers are aiming to supply the world with an estimated 11 billion coronavirus vaccine doses by the end of 2021 – a massive increase in capacity, tripling previous annual

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