Gov’t to study ending face shield use once COVID-19 vaccination rate rises – Duque
MANILA, Philippines — The government may study the proposed scrapping of the face shield policy during this pandemic only when the country’s vaccination coverage has improved, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III told senators on Tuesday.
But Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III wants the government to start the study now.
At Tuesday’s hearing of the Senate Committee of the Whole, Sotto asked government officials present if they have considered “discontinuing” the use of face shields, noting that the Philippines is the only country in the world mandating its use.
Duque, however, insisted that the use of face shields together with face masks and social distancing would provide “greater than 95 percent protection” against the deadly virus, citing various scientific studies.
“Siguro po, your honor, pagka malaki-laki na po ang coverage natin ng bakuna baka pwede na po nating pag-aralan ‘yun pong minumungkahi ng ibang mga grupo na baka pwedeng huwag nang gumamit ng face shield,” he said.
(Maybe, your honor, once our vaccine coverage improves, we can study the proposal of some groups to do away with the use of face shields.)
“Pero sa ngayon po talagang kami ay nakikiusap na ito’y ipagpatuloy pa rin natin dahil dagdag na protection po ito,” he added.
(But for now, we really appeal that we continue using face shields because it adds protection.)
But Sotto urged the government to start the study now, and not wait for the vaccination rate to improve.
“Ngayon pa lang pag-aralan n’yo na,” said the Senate leader, who is presiding over the hearing on the government’s vaccination program.
He also directed Duque’s office to submit to the Senate the list of countries that are mandating the use of face shields.
Senator Nancy Binay, meanwhile, asked Duque to submit to the committee the names of doctors who recommended the mandatory use of face shields.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, who was also in the hearing, clarified that only the wearing of face masks is required under the minimum health standards.
“’Yung face shield is just to provide added protection…” Año said.
He further said there is also no ordinance penalizing those caught not wearing face shields but establishments may opt not to allow them entry.
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