The Department of Health said Wednesday it was recommending the use of surgical or medical-grade masks instead of cloth face coverings to help stop a surge that is fueled by the Delta coronavirus variant.

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This is in step with the World Health Organization's advise favoring medical-grade face coverings in areas where variants are causing cases to rise, DOH Usec. Rosario Vergeire said.

"Ngayon, pansamantalang inirerekomenda po ang eksklusibong paggamit ng medical-grade masks o surgical masks po natin," she said in a town hall meeting.

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Both cloth and surgical masks give protection against COVID-19. Surgical masks, however, have filters that can further prevent organisms from entering the body, she said.

"Kung 'di naman po kaya ang pagkakaroon ng face mask na surgical, cloth mask is still recommended naman, hindi naman natin sinasabi na hindi na puwede gamitin," Vergeire said.

For those who cannot afford surgical masks, Dr. Anna Ong-Lim of the DOH Technical Advisory Group said double masking using cloth masks is okay.

The Philippines has recorded a total of 807 Delta variant cases as of Aug. 12, and tallied its first case of the Lambda variant on Aug. 15.

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As of Aug. 15, a total of 27,806,881 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered.

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