Malacañang reminded the public to continue following the government’s battle cry “Mask, Hugas, Iwas” (Face mask, handwashing, physical distancing) after it was reported that an existing deadlier and more infectious variant of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has mutated.
Roque made the statement after India reported that a new variant first identified in Europe as a “variant of concern.” The variant called “Delta Plus” is related to Delta, the variant that is thought to have caused the deadly second wave of infections in the country early this year.
In an interview with reporters in Pasay City on Wednesday, June 23, Roque said the key to fighting off any COVID-19 variant was to continue wearing face masks, washing hands properly, and observing physical distancing.
“Kahit ano pang variant po ‘yan, ang istratehiya natin mananatiling kapareho rin (Regardless of the variant, our strategy remains the same),” he said.
“Kinakailangan, parati kong inuulit, ‘Mask, Hugas, Iwas,’ habang wala pa pong bakuna (I keep on repeating, we need to follow ‘Mask, Hugas, Iwas’ while waiting to be vaccinated),” he added.
Meanwhile, Roque said the same rule applies to those who have been vaccinated already.
“Even for those who are vaccinated, ang bakuna po hindi substitute sa ‘Mask, Hugas, Iwas,’ lalung-lalo na wala tayong containment (the vaccine is not a substitute to ‘Mask, Hugas’ Iwas,’ especially if we haven’t reached the containment phase yet),” he said.
Containment refers to vaccinating 45 to 50 percent of the country’s population.
The Delta variant which was first detected in India prompted President Duterte to require the wearing of face shields both indoors and outdoors. This decision came after Malacañang announced that face shields were no longer necessary outdoors.
The country has so far reported 17 cases of the COVID-19 Delta variant.