SWS: Compliance with COVID-19 protocols declines in Visayas, Mindanao

SWS survey on health protocol compliance

In this photo taken on September 8, 2020, passengers wearing face shields and masks sit in between plastic dividers, as part of health protocols imposed by authorities on passenger jeepneys against the COVID-19 coronavirus in Manila. AFP file photo

MANILA, Philippines — Compliance with safety protocols against COVID-19, like wearing of masks, face shields, and maintaining physical distancing, fell short in areas within Visayas and Mindanao according to a latest survey.

In its report released on Thursday, the Social Weather Stations (SWS) said that while most Filipinos in general still adhere to the health standards to avoid coronavirus transmissions, there has been a letup in most areas in the two regions compared to the previous survey done in September 2020.


In contrast, compliance even increased in Metro Manila and Balance Luzon, as per the SWS report covering its April 28 to May 2 surveys.

“The percentage of those who always use a face mask is now highest in Balance Luzon (80%), followed by Metro Manila (78%), the Visayas (72%), and Mindanao (64%),” SWS said.

“Compared to September 2020, those who always use a face mask rose in Balance Luzon (up by 4 points from 76%).  They hardly changed in Metro Manila, barely moving from 77%.  However, they declined in the Visayas (down by 14 points from 86%) and Mindanao (down by 14 points from 78%),” it added.

Aside from this, compliance among Visayas and Mindanao residents also fell in the following categories:

  • wearing face shields (down by 31 points in Visayas, from 66 percent to 35 percent; down by 15 points in Mindanao, from 58 percent to 43 percent)
  • frequent hand washing (down by six points in Visayas, from 75 percent to 69 percent; down by 13 points in Mindanao, from 69 percent to 52 percent)
  • keeping physical distance (down by 14 points in Visayas, from 66 percent to 52 percent; down by 18 points in Mindanao, from 60 percent to 42 percent)

In Metro Manila and Luzon, compliance rose in all the areas mentioned:

  • wearing face shields (up by 11 points in Metro Manila; up by 10 points in Luzon)
  • frequent hand washing (up by 13 points in Metro Manila; up by seven points in Luzon)
  • keeping physical distance (same for Metro Manila; up by 10 points in Luzon

Still, SWS said that a huge majority of Filipinos, when taken generally, comply with the health protocols.  On the wearing of mask — considered as one of the most important regulations to avoid COVID-19 infection — 75 percent or three in four Filipinos strictly follow the rule.

The same report showed that 67 percent always wash their hands several times in a day, while 58 percent claim that they keep a safe distance from other people when they are outdoors.

“[…] 75% of adult Filipinos saying they always use a face mask when going out of their houses, 67% saying they always wash their hands several times a day, 58% saying they always keep ‘physical distance’ or a safe distance of one meter from other people outside their homes, and 53% saying they always use a face shield when riding public transportation or going to establishments,” SWS said.

“Compliance with these basic Covid-19 safety protocols hardly changed from September 2020, when 79% said they always use a face mask, 67% always wash their hands, 60% always keep “physical distance,” and 56% always use a face shield,” it added.


Numbers from SWS provide a different outlook towards the pandemic response of the Philippines, as government officials said that improper wearing of masks and non-adherence with protocols are to blame for the recent surge in cases.

Back in late March, Metro Manila and neighboring provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal saw an increase in COVID-19 cases, largely attributed to more infectious variants of concern.  New cases back then hovered around the 10,000 to 15,000 mark, whereas active case count went past 200,000 at one point.

READ: Duque blames improper wearing of face masks, face shields for COVID-19 surge 

However, the survey results can so be gleaned at as possible reason for the recent spike seen over Visayas and Mindanao.  Last Monday, Health Secretary Francisco Duque explained that despite cases going down in Metro Manila — and plateauing in Luzon — new infections were still high as other areas were also affected.

READ: Low NCR infections but higher COVID-19 cases? Duque says other areas also hit 

SWS said that they did face-to-face interviews with 1,200 adult Filipinos to obtain the results.  Respondents were then subdivided into 300 each from Balance Luzon, Metro Manila, the Visayas, and Mindanao.

The polling firm said that they maintain sampling error margins are ±3% for national percentages and ±6% for Balance Luzon, Metro Manila, the Visayas, and Mindanao.

READ: Duterte warns of stricter measures vs COVID-19 if people keep disregarding rules 


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