JANUARY, 14, 2020 – Health authorities on Tuesday said it was not necessary to wear face masks in Metro Manila due to Taal volcano’s continued ashfall, allaying public fears as the market runs out of supply.
Health Assistant Secretary Maria Laxamana said N95 masks are prescribed for use only in the provinces near the country’s second most active volcano including Batangas and Cavite, where over 30,000 people have been displaced by the heavy ashfall.
“Huwag po tayong magpanic. Huwag na po muna tayong mag-N95 dito sa Metro Manila,” Laxamana said during the government’s press briefing on the Taal volcano situation. “Ibigay po natin sa ating mga kababayan dito sa mga areas ng Batangas and Cavite.”
Laxamana said residents in the capital can buy regular surgical face masks instead since the ash fall that reached the region were not as heavy as the one experienced in southern Luzon, which damaged 75 million pesos worth of crops, livestock and fisheries.
She said the winds have also shifted its direction southwest toward Laguna and Quezon areas.
“Nagpanic lang po talaga ‘yung mga tao noong magbilihan ng N95,” she said. “Kaya nga po, sad to say, nagkawalaan ng stocks, ‘yung mga dapat bibigyan ng N95 ‘yun ang nagkulang.
Residents in Metro Manila had rushed to drugstores on Sunday to buy face masks especially N95 masks, following reports on the volcanic activities in Taal and its possible explosive eruption within days. Ashes from volcanoes may result in respiratory diseases.
There have also been reports of hoarding and jacking up of face masks prices. There were reports that N95 masks were sold more than 100 pesos per piece.
The Department of Trade and Industry already warned retailers taking advantage of the surge in demand of these products.
“DTI will not hesitate to file administrative and criminal charges against unscrupulous business entities and individuals who capitalize on the consumers’ urgent need for their own profit,” it said yesterday. (Karen Macalalad/MM)