MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte wants the government to distribute free face masks as the Philippines grapples with fresh spikes in COVID-19 infections.
Speaking during his public address last Monday, Duterte said some people cannot afford to buy new face masks and are forced to continue wearing worn out ones. He said a face mask may not serve its purpose of protecting its user if it is already worn out.
"Others are using very old ones. They have been using it for a month because, you know, they do not have money to buy. We have to provide the mask for everybody," the president said.
"If the person does not have the money to buy (face) masks, how do you expect compliance from him?" he added.
Duterte said the interior department and barangays can help in distributing face masks and ensuring that health and safety measures are followed.
"During this time, the government must provide…when they get sick…you cannot flog a dead horse," he added.
The Philippines has been posting more than 5,000 daily new COVID-19 infections in the past few days, a trend that officials have attributed to reduced compliance with health protocols and the emergence of more infectious variants. The government's pandemic task force has been reminding the public to observe minimum health standards like wearing face masks, frequent hand washing and physical distancing.
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