Bohol to buy locally-made masks

TAGBILARAN CITY – In a bid to bolster initiatives to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), the provincial government of Bohol is open to the idea of buying locally-made masks.

Governor Arthur Yap said municipal mayors are now talking to local tailors and seamstresses who could manufacture double-sided, tissue-filtered masks in support of the province’s new executive order (EO) directing all residents to wear a mask when they leave homes.

Yap said the provincial government is ready to buy locally designed masks produced by local tailors and seamstresses who are tapped by municipal mayors under their job and livelihood opportunity program, as part of the effort to lessen the negative impact of the viral threat to local employment and small-scale businesses.

This, after he signed over the weekend two executive orders (EO) that outline strict and proactive strategies in preventing the spread of the viral disease in the province.

EO 15 requires all residents to wear masks upon leaving their homes, and EO 16 declares curfew for all minors and senior citizens aged 65 onwards.

Yap said he was alarmed by the continued increase in Covid-19 cases in Metro Manila and the estimate that hundreds of infections remain unreported in the country today.

“The fact remains that positive Covid-19 cases continue to rise in Metro Manila. They have not been able to level the cases off. What is more worrisome is the fact that the DOH has said that based on an extrapolation of Philippine deaths which is at 8 percent now and global statistics place the death rate at 3.5 percent, there are possibly more than 200 to 400 cases which remain unreported,” Yap said.

He expressed fear on the status of the infected persons and the people who came into contact with them.

Yap reported that more than 5,000 people in Bohol are considered as persons under monitoring (PUMs) for having arrived from Manila in the last one and half weeks.

He said the figure includes mayors, Philippine Councilors League members and returning residents.

Yap said even if 5 percent of these PUMs graduate into severe acute respiratory infection (SARI) or mild acute respiratory infection (MARI) cases, public and private hospitals in Bohol will not be able to cope with the outbreak, most especially if these cases progress into positive Covid-19 cases.

“Presently, there was a decision arrived at two nights ago (Friday) that Gallares (hospital) be prepared to be transformed into a Covid-19 hospital so that a center dedicated to fight the (virus) and preserve scarce manpower and material resources (is) reached. But we are still working on it while we prepare as well the Capitol Annex and other municipal facilities into isolation centers.” Yap said.

Yap also admitted that due to difficulty in adhering to social distancing rules, the provincial government has taken an aggressive stance to protect Boholanos, stressing that those over 65 years old and minors under 18 are the most susceptible to the viral disease.

“The need to travel and leave their homes are also less urgent unless for medical reasons for these classes of people, considering their status as retirees and students when classes have been declared suspended,” Yap said.

In addition to the EOs 15 and 16, Yap has ordered a “reverse isolation” policy in requiring all Boholanos who leave their homes starting Thursday next week to wear “masks.”

EO 15, Yap said, protects Boholanos from each other considering that testing kits are only processed in Cebu and “we are not aware who are asymptomatic Covid-19 infected carriers in Bohol.

The business community has so far expressed support for the “reverse isolation” program by agreeing to supply masks for their employees.

Yap vowed to continue to tighten policies and urged the public to “follow social distancing, stay at home and keep your surroundings clean.” (PNA)

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