FORMER adviser on the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) response Dr. Ted Herbosa said on Monday, September 5, 2022, that the government should closely monitor the outcome of the lifting of the mandatory wearing of face masks in Cebu City.In a Laging Handa public briefing, Herbosa said while he is in favor of the call of the Department of Health (DOH) to maintain the mandatory wearing of face mask policy in the country, as well as for the local government units to implement a uniform protocol on the matter, he is also open to seeing the result of the Cebu City Government’s order.“Tingnan natin kung kayo gusto n’yo magtanggal ng mask at dumami ang mga kaso n’yo, e di malalaman naming dito sa Metro Manila na hindi pa pala kami talaga dapat magtanggal ng mask sa public places,” he said.(Let’s see what happens if you don’t wear your masks and your cases increase. We will hopefully know what we will do in Metro Manila if we really should allow people not to wear masks in public places.)“Kung ako ang tatanungin, tignan muna natin kung anong mangyari sa Cebu. Kung gusto talaga nila gawing optional ‘yan mask sa outdoor, ay tignan natin kung tataas ang cases sa kanila at tignan natin kung mapapataas nila ‘yung mga taong nagpapa booster,” he added.(If you ask me, let’s see what happens in Cebu first. If they really want to make mask-wearing optional outdoors, let’s see if their cases will increase and if they can increase the number of people doing boosters.)Last week, Cebu City Mayor Mike Rama issued an order making the wearing of face masks in all areas there, whether indoors or outdoors, optional.On Monday morning, Rama announced that the policy will go through a trial period until December 2022.He said the implementation of the policy will automatically be suspended once Covid-19 cases in the city increase.Herbosa, however, maintained that the country’s Covid-19 cases must stabilize and Covid-19 vaccination coverage, especially booster shots, should reach at least 50 percent before further easing health protocols to prevent the spread of cases.The country currently has a total of 24,067 active Covid-19 cases, of which 2,321 were added on Sunday, September 6.The DOH recorded a 19-percent decrease on average of daily Covid-19 cases in the country last week.In Cebu City, there were 338 active cases with 37 new cases on Sunday.Of the 72,476,610 fully vaccinated individuals in the country, only 17,843,348 or 24 percent received booster doses, which experts said is necessary as the country fights the spread of the Omicron subvariant that was among the main drivers of the upsurge of cases.As of September 5, a total of 656 additional cases of Omicron subvariant brought the country’s total to nearly 3,000. Omicron subvariants such as BA.5, BA.2.12.1 and BA.4 were reported to be more highly transmissible than their mother variant. (SunStar Philippines)