Velasco asks Duterte to reconsider mandatory face shield policy
MANILA, Philippines — Speaker Lord Allan Velasco on Tuesday urged President Rodrigo Duterte to reconsider the policy requiring the public to wear face shields against COVID-19 “because protection against airborne transmission is already sufficiently addressed by the proper use of facemasks.”
In a letter to Duterte, Velasco said the face shield requirement only adds to the financial burden of Filipinos affected by the pandemic.
He also addressed the letter to Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.
Velasco pointed out the absence of medical proof that using a face shield is effective against the transmission of the new coronavirus.
“The use of face shields has made little difference in protecting against the transmission of COVID-19 over the proper use of masks alone, and imposes an additional burden to poor Filipino families already reeling from the adverse effect of the pandemic on their livelihood,” the Speaker said in the letter.
“COVID-19 has worsened hunger among Filipinos. The cost of a face shield of about P20 to P50 is already a substantial amount equivalent to the cost of a meal for these poor Filipinos, and mandatory requirement of the same takes away money for food from these families,” he added.
According to Velasco, even the World Health Organization and the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) only recommend the use of face shields to those providing direct care to patients infected with COVID-19.
He also cited an article by researchers from the Philippine Society for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, which concluded that while the use of face shields may help doctors and health care workers against splashes and sprays of blood or other bodily secretions, it does not give additional protection against respiratory aerosol such as those present in COVID-19.
Moreover, Velasco said the requirement only “adds to the already worsening garbage problem in the country considering the flimsy construction of these disposable face shields.”
“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,” he stressed.
“Please reconsider our current policy that requires our poor kababayans to buy and wear a piece of plastic shield over their already masked faces,” he also said.
Medical experts and doctors have also already called for a review on the face shield policy, arguing that it only works in hospital settings or in indoor and poorly ventilated areas.
Many in the past have also questioned the national government’s insistence on the face shield requirement despite the lack of proof that it effectively reduces COVID-19 transmission.
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