By Jose Santino Bunachita
CEBU CITY (September 2, 2022) — As the city transitions to a non-mandatory wearing of face masks, officials expressed optimism that this policy will help the city in other aspects, one of which is garbage.
City Environmental Sanitation and Enforcement Team (CESET) Head Grace Luardo said they have seen face masks as a contributor to the city’s garbage problem over the past two years of the pandemic.
“Imagine if our population is one million, and in one day, we use one or two face masks. That is a significant volume of garbage that we accumulate,” she told Cebu City News in Cebuano.
Luardo, who was named “garbage czar” by Mayor Mike Rama, said they have observed how face masks contribute to clogged drainage lines and waterways due to people indiscriminately throwing them.
She pointed out that face masks are technically considered hazardous and contaminated wastes and must be properly disposed.
Imagine if our population is one million, and in one day, we use one or two face masks. That is a significant volume of garbage that we accumulateGrace Luardo, City Environmental Sanitation Enforcement Team (CESET) Head
“Sa atong kadalanan, kanang manglimpyo ta sa sapa, daghan kaayo tang makit-an nga face masks. Magsakit akong dughan magtan-aw,” Luardo said.
Since face masks are not anymore strictly required in the city, they at CESET and the barangay environmental officers are hopeful that they will see lesser face masks ending up in streets, rivers, and dumpsites.
Mayor Rama signed last Wednesday, August 31, Executive Order No. 5, which made the wearing of face masks optional within the territory of Cebu City starting yesterday, September 1.
The policy was made following a series of consultations with the City’s convergence group, which includes experts in the health industry.
The downward trend in CoViD cases and the city’s high vaccination rate are just some of the reasons that prompted the decision to remove the mandatory wearing of face masks.
The EO, however, retains the mandatory wearing of face masks in hospitals, clinics, and other medical and diagnostic facilities.
Dr. Anton Reposar, Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC) medical director, agreed on the need to continue wearing face masks in hospitals.
“The people who come to hospitals, they have symptoms, that’s why they are there – to have themselves checked,” he said.
It is, therefore, important to still require people in hospitals to wear face masks to prevent the spread of not just CoViD but also other forms of communicable diseases.
Dr. Reposar said this was also the sentiment of other members of the medical community during their dialogue with Mayor Rama.
He said they agreed on the mayor’s thoughts that while CoViD is not yet gone, there also has to be a balance and rationalization of the city’s CoViD-related guidelines.
“The bottomline is discipline, awareness, and self-preservation,” said Dr. Reposar. #