As COVID-19 cases in the Philippines continue to rise due to the highly-transmissible Delta variant of COVID-19, the issue on scrapping the government’s mandatory wearing of face shields when outdoors, in addition to face masks, resurfaces again.
At a press briefing on Tuesday, August 31, World Health Organization (WHO) Representative to the Philippines, Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, said that they would look into the experience of the Philippines in terms of wearing face shields as protection against COVID-19.
“The face shields are being used to reduce the likelihood of infection through the eyes. That’s not actually additional layer although it actually boosts the protection provided by poor mask wearing practices,” he said.
Abeyasinghe said that while the Philippines was able to “sort of delay the speed of the Delta variant is transmitting, we don’t know if face shield is a contributing factor.”
“While we’re understanding all of these issues, it’s best to look for evidence and make our decision based from that,” he added when asked if the government should scrap its face shield policy.
The public clamor to get rid of the policy comes as the government’s purchase of “overpriced” face shields became the subject of marathon congressional hearings on the health department’s mismanagement of COVID-19 funds.
State auditors found out that the government bought face shields in April 2020 for P120 a piece, an amount which senators considered “overpriced.” Auditors also reported that, by yearend 2020, there were 484,000 face shields sitting idle in government depots.
Both the WHO and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention do not have recommendations on making wearing face shields a policy.
Despite the mandatory wearing of face shields, the Philippines saw its highest ever COVID-19 single-daily tally at 22,366 cases on Monday, August 30. The country now has 1,976,202 confirmed infections since the pandemic began. – Rappler.com