People keep masks on but forget about handwashing

I am glad to see that despite the government’s and businesses’ pronouncements that masking should be optional even indoors, many people prefer to err on the side of caution and keep their faces covered, unless they are eating or drinking.

Recent figures show that the number of cases of the corona virus disease 2019 (Covid-19) was significant among students as face-to-face classes resumed. This situation prompted the Philippine Pediatric Society and Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines to recommend strongly the continued use of masks in classrooms.

Even the archdiocese of Manila is encouraging parishioners to continue wearing masks inside churches.

What worries me, however, is, while people do not seem to mind having to wear masks still, they seem to neglect another important health protocol that will protect them not just from Covid-19 but other infectious diseases.

I think I have mentioned before how the deadly pandemic led to better and even well-stocked toilets in malls and offices. The places I have visited so far, even outside Metro Manila, have working taps, soap and even – some, not all – toilet paper, hand dryers and/or paper towels.

And yet, despite all the amenities that are now being provided, many people leave the toilets without washing their hands. Is this another case of that recurring Filipino malady, ningas-kugon?

There have been several cases of people, who have been outside, bringing the infection to people who cannot leave their homes for various reasons, like the elderly, and those who cannot be vaccinated yet, like young children.

Handwashing takes only a few minutes but its benefits are immense. Health authorities should not only target children but adults, too, in their handwashing campaigns, as both can spread an infection by not practising a simple and quick disease-preventing measure.

Incidentally, despite all the efforts by the government, private sector and health/medical professionals many have not even had the first shot of the anti-Covid 19  vaccine because of the disinformation on social media and by people in authority who should know better.

The lingering Covid-19 and its many variants that continue to emerge until now is worrisome enough but now recent figures indicate that coverage by vaccines against deadly or debilitating  childhood illnesses, like poliomyelitis, measles, tetanus and tuberculosis, has also fallen as people are increasingly skeptical about the benefits of immunization.     

The Philippines was reported to have eradicated in 2000 polio, a disease that causes physical disability, even death. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the 32nd president of the United States, had to move around in a wheelchair because of the disease.

It is absolutely irresponsible to create fear that will prevent children from getting a cheap and easily accessible intervention so they do not die at a young age and are able to grow up healthy and productive adults.

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