DoH against easing rules on minors

THE DEPARTMENT of Health is not in favor of easing quarantine rules for children below 15 years old, but will leave it up to local officials to take responsibility for setting and implementing guidelines should they decide to do otherwise.

“We discourage this, huwag na pong lumabas ang mga bata (let’s not allow the children to go out),” Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III said in an online briefing Wednesday.

He noted that the current national policy already permits 15 to 65 year-olds to leave the house, particularly for areas under the modified and general community quarantine classifications.

“But of course the decision is up to the local government units… and it would be good if they support it with an ordinance,” Mr. Duque said in Filipino.

The health chief noted that of the total cases in the country, about 3-5% are composed of children.

He also cited the danger of infected children who are asymptomatic spreading the coronavirus to their family members.

The 17 mayors of the capital region Metro Manila, meanwhile, have sought the opinion of the Philippine Pediatric Society before making a decision on whether to allow minors, accompanied by parents or guardians, to go to shopping malls.

Metro Manila Development Authority General Manager Jose Arturo S. Garcia, Jr., speaking for the mayors in a briefing on Wednesday, said they expect the recommendation of the doctors’ group latest by Thursday.

“Status quo (for now), we will wait for the opinion of the experts,” he said.

Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo M. Año, in a statement Wednesday, said the mayors’ decision will be reviewed by the national task force handling the coronavirus response.

“If the Metro Manila mayors are able to come up with a common proposal allowing minors or children in malls and other public places, the final decision will still be with the IATF (inter-agency task force) and ultimately, the President,” he said.

Mr. Año on Tuesday said local executives have the final say on the matter. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas

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