Infectious disease expert backs use of face shield vs COVID-19
MANILA, Philippines — An infectious disease expert, who is also a government technical adviser, still recommends the use of face shields even in outdoor settings due to the threat of COVID-19’a more infectious Delta variant.
Citing several studies, Dr. Edsel Salvana, a member of the Department of Health technical advisory group, said on Friday that the Delta variant is up to four times more transmissible than the original coronavirus.
There is also preliminary data that show that the Delta variant, which first emerged in India, is still about 40% more transmissible even outdoors, he added.
“So para sa akin, kahit pa sabihin nila na hindi na required ang face shield lalo na with the threat of this Delta variant, gagamit pa rin talaga ako ng face shield, I will recommend it because it is an extra layer of protection,” he said in a Laging Handa public briefing.
(Even though they say that face shields are no longer required, with the threat of the Delta variant, I will still use face shields. I will recommend it because it is an extra layer of protection.)
The fate of the mandatory face shield policy is still in limbo as President Rodrigo Duterte has yet to officially decide whether or not to drop the requirement.
On Thursday, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) recommended to the President to only require the use of face shields in enclosed or indoor spaces, such as:
-commercial establishments (such as but not limited to food establishments, malls, and public markets)
-public transport and terminals
-places of worship
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, who also serves as the IATF’s spokesperson, said the existing policy on the use of face shields remains in effect while the President has to decide on the matter.
Malacañang has yet to clarify the government’s current policy on the use of face shields since several government officials have contradicting statements on the issue.
Health Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega earlier said there is no longer a need to wear a face shield if an individual is outdoors since the risk of COVID-19 transmission is very low in the open air.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, meanwhile, said wearing of the face shield was only required in “specific settings” such as:
- enclosed public spaces
- commercial establishments such as but not limited to food establishments, malls, and public markets
- public transport and terminals
- places of worship
- other public spaces wherein 1-meter physical distancing is not possible and there is a gathering of more than 10 people at the same venue at the same time
This, however, seems similar to the IATF’s latest recommendation to the President, yet Vergeire claims this “has always been the standing policy” of the health department, citing the Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) 2021-0001 on the Clarificatory Guidelines on the Mandatory Use of Face Shields Outside of Residence for COVID-19 Mitigation.
To add to the confusion, President Duterte, in a recent meeting that included lawmakers, has said that wearing the face shield is only required in hospitals – which was revealed by Sotto and then confirmed by Roque in a press briefing on Thursday.
Roque even pointed out that Duterte’s latest pronouncement can already be considered a policy although the IATF can still appeal it and recommend amendments to that rule before the President.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.