Face shields a must for commuters
MANILA, Philippines — Starting Aug. 15, all commuters across the country will be required to wear face shields, over the mandatory mask, as an additional layer of protection against coronavirus infection, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) said on Wednesday.
In Metro Manila and other areas currently under modified enhanced community quarantine, the new requirement takes effect once public transportation is allowed to operate again after Aug. 18.
Visors or full-face shields
The DOTr issued Memorandum Circular No. 2020-14, requiring all land, sea and air travelers to wear face shields.
In a statement, the DOTr said the new requirement was intended to further reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission on public transit. It quoted “health authorities” as saying “the use of face shields and masks reduces exposure to and emission of respiratory droplets considerably.”
The department is specific about the kind of face shield it wants travelers to wear: at the minimum, they must wear visors or full-face shields that cover the nose and mouth.
Otherwise, they will not be allowed to board, according to Transport Undersecretary for Administrative Affairs Artemio Tuazon.
“We advise [commuters to] use the ones that cover the whole face. It’s actually meant as a redundancy of the protection of the face mask,” Tuazon said.
At present, the simplest face shields available on the market (visors and frames) cost around P30. Full-face shields typically cost around P100.
Face shields are typically reusable, but need to be sanitized frequently as scientific studies have shown the new coronavirus that causes the severe respiratory illness COVID-19 survives on plastic and steel surfaces for at least three days.
Preempting criticism of yet another “antipoor” measure, Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade urged commuters not to look at the new requirement as an added financial burden but as a necessary layer of protection against coronavirus infection.
“To our countrymen, let’s not look at this as a new expense or an added inconvenience. No amount of protection is too much when it comes to health and safety, especially that we are battling an invisible enemy. What we are addressing is not a transport issue but rather a health issue,” Tugade said.
Apart from the mask-and-shield requirement, the DOTr said physical distancing and hand sanitizing would be strictly enforced on all public vehicles.
Talking and using mobile phones are also discouraged on public transit.
The Philippines has seen sharp spikes in coronavirus infections since the government eased quarantine restrictions and allowed the return of public transportation on June 1.
47K active cases
On Wednesday, the Department of Health (DOH) reported 3,462 additional infections, pushing the national tally to 115,980 with 47,587 active cases, of which 91.4 percent were mild, 7.3 percent asymptomatic, 0.8 percent severely ill, and 0.5 percent in critical condition.
Of the new cases submitted by 84 of 98 accredited laboratories, 2,434 were from Metro Manila, 105 from Laguna, 101 from Rizal, 73 from Cavite, and 62 from Cebu.
The majority of the new cases, or 2,919, were reported to have fallen ill between July 23 and Aug. 5.
The DOH reported that 222 more patients had recovered, raising the total number of COVID-19 survivors to 66,270. But the death toll rose to 2,123 with the deaths of nine more patients. Eight of the patients died in July, while one died in June. Four of the fatalities were from Metro Manila, another four were from Central Visayas, while one was from Davao. —WITH A REPORT FROM JOVIC YEE
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