THE mandatory use of face masks to help slow down the spread of Covid-19 has been the subject of different opinions even among medical experts. Until recently, the official position of the DOH, if I read the pronouncements correctly, has been to limit the use of face masks only to those who feel the symptoms of the dreaded disease. If you are healthy, (or at least feel healthy), just observe the proper social distancing while in public. In fact, in certain government pronouncements, drug stores, and similar establishments have been asked to lift their "no mask, no entry" policies.

In a 180-degree turnaround, the IATF last Tuesday mandated the compulsory use of face masks in public. Believing it is better to err on the side of safety, the City Council of Muntinlupa met via videoconference on March 31 to pass City Ordinance 2020-083. The same was signed the following day by Mayor Jaime R. Fresnedi.

The ordinance mandates that "every person is required to wear face masks at all times, especially when going outside their residence, at the workplace, when entering government buildings and offices, and while in public places."

A first offense is punishable by "attendance in community service or awareness campaign for at least three hours." A subsequent offense is punishable by strict confinement to residence, except for emergency purposes.

Muntinlupa City PIO Tez Navarro earlier announced 41 confirmed Covid-19 cases (a single day spike of 7), 173 PUMs, 72 PUIs, 4 deaths and 39 recovered.

Other Muntinlupa City Government anti-Covid-19 initiatives:

* 27 city-paid school nurses were deployed as additional medical personnel in local quarantine control points. City Health Officer Dr. Manuel Casador Jr. said the school nurses will help implement quarantine control measures, including checking of temperatures, survey of travel history and symptoms, among others.

* The City Government launched the Virtual Mental Health and Psychosocial support team on Facebook to provide psychological counseling. The project is being handled by the City Health Office, Social Service Department and Persons with Disabilities Affairs Office. The project has provided online counseling to 168 city residents.

* The Muntinlupa City Council headed by Vice Mayor Temy Simundac has authorized the purchase of Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) machines and testing kits to be housed at the Ospital ng Muntinlupa. The use of the foregoing will be subject to approval by the DOH. Earlier, Muntinlupa set up a field hospital adjacent to the Ospital ng Muntinlupa. Also, isolation areas are also now in place in the 9 barangays of Muntinlupa.

* The City Council donated 1,000 disposable surgical gowns to the Ospital ng Muntinlupa.

* PNP Muntinlupa Chief Police Colonel Hermogenes Cabe reported filing cases against 94 curfew violators.

Who are the "frontliners"?

I ran across this very interesting YouTube video shared by Ben de Leon in our Viber group. The speaker, apparently a medical professional, describes who are the real frontliners. Let me reproduce her message.

"Many have referred to us healthworkers as working on the frontline of this epidemic. I understand this terminology and the inclination to use this wartime metaphor at this moment is apt. However, one thing needs to be clear. We are not the frontliners in this battle. We health workers stand at the back. We are the last line of defense. And we hope the fight never gets to us. The frontline of this epidemic is you. The people in the community tasked with the challenge of keeping us all safe. The history of public health is a story of prevention. Public health is about preventing larger problems before they happen. And we need you in the frontlines to help stand guard. You do this by social distancing and preventing community spread in every way possible. You do this by cleaning and sanitizing. You do this by applying quarantine when indicated, and hopefully, eventually, we will add to this list, vaccination as one additional public health measure in this fight. So, thank you for standing on the front lines for us. And know that all of us on the last line of defense appreciate anything you can do to help. Be safe and take care of each other."

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