Despite the government's decision to make wearing of face masks voluntary in indoor and outdoor spaces, a recent Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey found that a majority of adult Filipinos still wear face masks when leaving their homes.
Results of the survey conducted on Dec. 10-14 last year and released last Monday night showed that 54 percent of the respondents said 'they will always use a face mask when leaving their homes.'
Some 22 percent said they would do so 'most of the time' while 15 percent said they would 'sometimes' wear face masks when leaving their homes.
Eight percent answered 'rarely,' while one percent said 'never.'
The survey also found that most respondents approved of the government decision to lift the mandatory wearing of face masks in indoor and outdoor spaces.
Some 64 percent of the respondents said they 'strongly approve' of voluntary masking, while 27 percent 'somewhat approve' of it.
Only three percent said they 'somewhat disapprove,' while one percent 'strong disapproved' of the policy.
The remaining four percent were undecided.
On the voluntary masking of students inside schools, 65 percent said they 'strongly agree' while 26 percent said they 'somewhat agree.'
Two percent said they 'strongly disagree,' while six percent said they 'somewhat disagree.'
Three percent were undecided.
Majority or 81 percent of the households with children attending face-to-face classes also said they would 'always' make their children wear face masks when going to school.
Eleven percent said 'most of the time,' five percent said 'sometimes' and three percent said they 'rarely' do so.
Less than one percent said they would never make their children wear face masks when attending face-to-face classes.
The December 2022 survey had 1,200 respondents and a margin of error of +/- 2.8 percent.
Meanwhile, the Department of Health (DOH) yesterday said a majority of Filipinos are now able to practice good health behavior.
At a press conference, DOH officer-in-charge Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said they are happy with the results of the SWS survey as it showed that many Filipinos still continue to wear face masks.
'This shows that each Filipino has imbibed this good health behavior, wherein they know now how to adequately protect themselves. Despite being merely voluntary, our countrymen would still use face masks,' Vergeire added.
The DOH official stressed that it would be better if more Filipinos would wear face masks compared with what the survey results showed.
She said it would also be good if people would continue wearing face masks even after the COVID-19 is officially over, especially those considered as high risk.
'We hope that this good health behavior will continue in terms of protecting ourselves from COVID-19 and also from other illnesses in the country,' she added.
In September 2022, President Marcos signed an executive order making face masks voluntary outdoors, followed by a separate order making face mask indoors non-mandatory a month later.
The DOH also said that given the large number of Filipinos who continuously wear face masks, the number of COVID-19 cases will remain within the expected levels.
Based on the latest COVID-19 trend, Mindanao and the National Capital Region have shown continued incremental increases, while the remaining areas are exhibiting plateauing trends.
'As of now, this kind of increase and decrease in the number of cases is expected because the virus is still here, and we will continue to do so because the virus is here to stay,' Vergeire said.
She added that they are not alarmed with such a trend of COVID-19 cases as long as people are aware and know how to protect themselves.
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