- Filipinos can start removing their face shields whenever they are outdoors or in open-air settings
- This is what Department of Health Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega said in an interview over at state television PTV
- He said that people who walk or work in open-air areas need not wear them to avoid untoward accidents
- His pronouncements run contrary to the position of DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III, who earlier rejected calls by some mayors and senators to scrap the face shields, and said there is science behind the policy
Filipinos can start saying goodbye to face shields and the extreme discomfort they bring, at least outdoors or in open-air settings.
In an interview Wednesday over PTV4, Department of Health Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega said that people can remove their face shields when they are in open-air settings or outdoors.
This was his answer when asked about the government mandate on the extra protective equipment against the deadly COVID-19.
He said those walking or working in open-air spaces or outdoors no longer need to wear their face shields.
“Ang face shields kailangan lang naman talaga 'yan 'pag nasa indoor ka, 'pag nasa mall ka or pag may interaction ka face to face inside,” USec Vega said.
He added that the risk of COVID transmission outdoors is very low, and besides, face shields may just affect the vision of the wearer due to its constant moisture.
“Kapag nasa outside naman, ang risk of transmission is very low. 'Pag naglalakad ka sa kalye, baka maka-affect 'yung moist nito so puwede ninyo pong tanggalin 'yan,” the Health Undersecretary said.
He reminded everyone, however, there is still a need to wear face shields in closed spaces or indoors.
“Kapag pumasok kayo indoors po kailangan may face shields kasi ito 'yung added protection na hindi kayo maka-transmit o mahawaan kayo,” Vega said.
Earlier, local chief executives like Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso and a couple of senators called on the Department of Health to scrap the wearing of face shields on top of face masks.
They said the Philippines is the only country that requires the additional protection layer in the fight against COVID-19.
DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III, however, rejected their calls, saying the department’s mandate on the wearing of face shields in public is backed by science.
Face shields provide an additional layer of protection for health personnel working in the frontlines, particularly if they often come in close contact with COVID-19 positive patients. When the Philippines experienced a huge surge in COVID-19 cases, the government might have taken the cue from frontliners, thinking that requiring the use of face shields could help reduce the number of coronavirus cases in the country. However, the policy became almost useless as people would just raise their face shields to their heads for the reason that they could not see clearly with face shields on. The Philippines is the only country in the world requiring people to use them whenever they venture out in public.
Several months ago, upon advice of DOH officials, the Department of Transportation or DOTr, mandated that drivers and passengers need to wear face masks and face shields even if they are aboard a private vehicle. The two departments said that this is now mandatory and that is regardless if they are from the same household. If the driver is traveling alone, then he is not required to wear a mask. Passengers of public transportation systems have long been required to wear both a face mask and a face shield.
A few days ago, actress and singer Agot Isidro also took to Twitter to say her piece about face shields. She slammed its use and included in her post a side-by-side photo comparison; one wearing, and the other not wearing. She said that face shields were virtually useless, considering that people are already wearing masks. It can be recalled that it is not the first time that the use of face shields was criticized. ACT-CIS representative Jocelyn Tulfo has already proposed the removal of the restriction on the wearing of face shields.
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