DOH says COVID-19 ‘not a joking matter’; calls on public personalities to avoid misinformation

Public personalities were urged Monday to help the country overcome the national health crisis by being responsible with their statements over the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), saying this is not a “joking matter.”

Lawyer Larry Gadon went viral over the weekend for stating that he does not believe in the effectiveness of wearing masks outdoors and even taunted the government for overreacting over the virus.

Health Assistant Secretary Maria Rosario S. Vergeire
Health Assistant Secretary Maria Rosario S. Vergeire

This prompted the Department of Health to issue a call on all public personalities who have influence to avoid making statements that would misinform and mislead the public in dealing with the pandemic.  

“This is not a joking matter. May mga namamatay, may nagkakasakit, nagsa-suffer ang economy (There are people dying, getting sick, the economy is suffering) and the only way to go for us to overcome this situation is to help each other,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said when asked for comments on Gadon’s controversial pronouncements.

“Yung mga ganitong (These kind of) statements are not helping us at all,” Vergeire added.

The health official reiterated that based on studies and scientific evidence, wearing a mask can protect an individual 85 percent from being infected while wearing a mask and faceshield with strict physical distancing can give a 99 percent protection from contracting the disease.

“So sana makinig lang tayo sa (May we listen to) accurate information. This is not a joking matter. Sana lahat naiintidihan nila ang implication kapag nagsasalita sila in public (I hope everyone realizes the implications of their statements in public),” Vergeire said.

The department expressed that this is not the time to lead the public to misinformation and false sense of reality.

“Dito tayo magkakaroon ng problema (This is where the problem comes in) because currently, hirap na hirap na tayong mag-enforce ng (we are struggling to enforce) minimum health standard, so we seek the help of everybody in giving the accurate information to the public,” the undersecretary appealed.