Mayor mum on new mask mandate: ‘let’s wait a while’

(Arnold Almacen photo)

By Joseph B.A. Marzan

Iloilo City residents would have to wait until Friday until a new coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) policy is announced amid the steady increase in cases, according to Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas.

“Let’s wait till Friday,” was Treñas’ reply when asked via Viber if he was planning to reinstate the mandatory use of face masks in the city.

The question came to fore following a visible increase in the city’s COVID cases, with 17 new cases, 13 new recoveries, and 1 new death as of May 16, 2023, according to data from the City Epidemiological Surveillance Unit (CESU).

The latest CESU data also indicated that 460 COVID cases were reported so far this year, including 108 active cases, 345 recoveries and 7 deaths.

Department of Health (DOH) data also indicated that the number of cases between May 1 to 14 (185) already surpassed the total for April (137).

This month’s cases also exceeded the 101 cases in January (34), February (23), and March (44).

Other areas that reimposed mandatory wearing of face masks due to rising cases are Baguio City, the Manila City Hall, and Barangay Old Balara in Quezon City.

Treñas previously reinstated the mandatory wearing of face masks at the Iloilo City Hall in early April. He then reimposed the same policy in indoor settings via Executive Order (EO) No. 048 issued on April 25.

The local government shifted to a voluntary face mask mandate on May 9 via EO No. 55 after the World Health Organization deescalated COVID-19 as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia-Frasco on Tuesday said that their department did not see the return of COVID-19 restrictions despite the nationwide uptick in cases.