Filipino children should stay home because they might get infected and even spread COVID-19 to their families, Health Secretary Francisco Duque said in a virtual press briefing today.
Duque said this a few days after Interior Secretary Eduardo Año announced that children under 15 years of age would be allowed to enter malls in areas under the general community quarantine. No less than Metro Manila police chief Brig. General Vicente Danao rejected his boss’ proposal, saying that only authorized persons outside homes (or APOR) would be able to enter shopping complexes.
“Our position does not change,” Duque said in English and Filipino. “As much as possible, we discourage that because there is still a risk. Remember that in the nine months of dealing with COVID-19, we learned a lot of important things. And one of these is that three to five percent of the total cases are children. They’re not exempted from getting infected.”
Duque added that even if children are asymptomatic, they can spread the virus to older family members, such as their grandparents.
“This may cause the spread [of the virus], and we might end up with a high infection rate. We discourage this. Children should not go out,” the government official said, who added that local governments could pass ordinances that prohibit kids from leaving their homes.
Año, who leads the country’s police force, said early this week that children would be allowed to enter malls if their parents or guardians accompanied them. However, another police officer said that a city should first come up with a local ordinance for this to happen. For now, only those 15 to 65 years old are allowed to enter malls.
The Philippines has the second-highest number of COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia, with 432,925 cases, including 8,418 deaths and 398,782 recoveries.