SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
Speaker Lord Allan Velasco has reiterated his support for the scrapping of the policy on the mandatory use of face shields for the general public, insisting that these clear plastic guards are “all but useless” when it comes to preventing the spread of the coronavirus.
"There are still no solid medical and scientific proof that face shields are effective deterrents to the spread of the deadly COVID-19," Velasco said.
“There are, however, several published medical studies noting the doubtful efficacy of face shields in preventing aerosols from spreading, which is primarily how coronavirus infects us,” he added.
Velasco maintained that the protection against the airborne transmission of COVID-19 is already sufficiently addressed by the proper use of face masks.
He said studies conducted by physician-researchers of Wayne State University School of Medicine indicate that combining the use of face shields and masks made little difference over the use of masks alone.
The Speaker also cited an article by researchers from the Philippine Society for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (PSMID), the country’s leading professional association of specialists in infectious diseases and microbiology.
PSMID researchers have concluded that the use of face shields may help doctors and health care workers against splashes and sprays of blood or other bodily secretions, but does not give additional protection against respiratory aerosol such as those present in COVID-19 transmission.
Velasco issued the statement after some local government units have announced they were scrapping the mandatory wearing of face shields in their areas.
Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte has recently signed an executive order (EO) which specified that wearing of face shields would be voluntary in the so-called 3Cs: crowded places, close contact settings, and confined and enclosed spaces.
Manila Mayor Isko Moreno likewise issued an EO stating that the use of face shields would be "non-mandatory" in the city except for medical and hospital facilities.
Other Metro Manila mayors have also announced that they were in favor of scrapping the use of face shields, except in hospitals and possibly even public utility vehicles, now that many residents in their areas have been vaccinated.
Velasco renewed his call for the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) and the Department of Health to scrap their directives on the mandatory use of plastic face shields for the general public.
These are IATF Resolution No. 88 and Joint Memorandum Circular 2021-0001 on the Clarificatory Guidelines on the Mandatory Use of Face Shields Outside of Residence for COVID-19 Mitigation.
"These directives become moot anyway the moment we allowed shoppers to dine-in at restaurants, where people will take their face shields and masks off when eating,” Velasco pointed out.
“This is not to say that all protocols should be scrapped; all we're saying is that we should be applying practicable and sensible health and safety guidelines by now in dealing with the pandemic,” he clarified.
At the same time, Velasco cited the economic burden being placed on Filipinos in enforcing the mandatory use of face shields.
"The cost of a face shield of about P20 to P50 is already a substantial amount equivalent to the cost of a meal for our indigent population, and mandatory requirement of the same takes away money for food from these families,” he said.
Velasco, a known advocate against single-use plastics and plastic pollution, also underscored the damage caused by discarded face shields to the environment.
"Most face shields out in the market are disposable, and they all add to the already worsening garbage problem in the country—not to mention these plastics’ long-term effect on our environment,” Velasco stated.
"We believe that the government has responded well to the challenges of this pandemic, and its efforts have brought us to this point where a lot of businesses have reopened and a lot more citizens have been vaccinated," Velasco said, as he commended the government for these efforts.
He added: “The rest of the world universally considers the following as effective interventions to prevent the spread of COVID-19: proper wearing of face masks, regularly washing or disinfecting of hands or high-touch surfaces, and ensuring proper ventilation in indoor spaces. These measures should be enough for us to protect each other from infection.” #