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Kids advised to wear masks

MANILA, Philippines — People, especially children, have been advised to wear face masks as a form of protection after the Department of Health (DOH) sounded the alarm over the rising cases of pertussis or whooping cough in the country.

“I highly recommend wearing face masks, especially the children, since we are declaring an infection that can be transmitted through respiratory droplets,” infectious disease expert Dr. Rontgene Solante said during an interview at the Bagong Pilipinas Ngayon program yesterday.

Pertussis or whooping cough is a highly contagious bacterial respiratory infection that causes influenza-like symptoms of mild fever, colds and coughs seven to 10 days after exposure.

He added, “I will highly encourage children going to school to use face masks.”

Apart from wearing face masks, Solante also advised the public to practice health protocols such as frequent handwashing, consulting a doctor when you have symptoms and staying at home when sick.

He also warned parents that pertussis can be life threatening, especially for kids less than a year old.

“Infants without (pertussis) vaccine are at high risk. It is very important that if you observe the symptom of coughing in children, mothers should immediately go to a health center and consult a doctor,” said Solante.

The health expert also said that if coughing doesn’t stop, it can result in lack of air in the body that can lead to respiratory failure, or pneumonia or encephalopathy.

At the same time, Solante pointed out that children are not the only ones who could get sick of pertussis, the elderly can also be affected, especially those who weren’t able to avail themselves of the pertussis vaccine.

“Adults should also consult doctors when they have symptoms. They should get vaccinated in order not to infect children. Adults who were not vaccinated could also be carriers of infection in the household where there are also unvaccinated children,” he said.

Latest data from the DOH showed that during the first 10 weeks of this year, 453 cases of pertussis were recorded in the country. In 2022, only two pertussis cases were recorded while in 2023, there were 23.