November 11, 2021

Velasco renews call to abolish obligatory use of face shields

House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco on Tuesday reaffirmed his plea to repeal the face shield mandate for the general public, claiming that the protection against the airborne transmission of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) is already fully handled by the right usage of face masks.

Velasco said there is currently no substantial medical and scientific data that face shields are effective deterrents to the spread of Covid-19.

“There are, however, multiple published medical studies emphasizing the uncertain usefulness of face shields in stopping aerosols from spreading, which is basically how coronavirus infects us,” he stated.

Citing studies conducted by physician-researchers of Wayne State University School of Medicine, he noted that combining the usage of face shields with masks made little difference over the use of masks alone.

He also cited an article by researchers from the Philippine Society for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (PSMID) showing that the use of face shields may help doctors and health care workers against splashes and sprays of blood or other bodily secretions but does not give additional protection against respiratory aerosol such as those present in Covid-19 transmission.

Velasco released the announcement after some local government entities had stated they were suspending the mandatory use of face shields in their districts.

Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte has just signed an executive order (EO) which indicated that wearing face shields would be voluntary in crowded venues, close-contact settings, and confined and enclosed spaces.

Manila Mayor Isko Moreno likewise issued an EO indicating that the usage of face shields would be “non-mandatory” in the city save for medical and hospital institutions.

Other Metro Manila mayors have also indicated that they were in favor of removing the use of face shields, save in hospitals and potentially even public utility vehicles, given that many inhabitants in their districts have been vaccinated.

Velasco resumed his appeal for the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) and the Department of Health to revoke its guidelines on the mandatory use of plastic face shields for the general public.

“These directives become meaningless anyhow the moment we enabled consumers to dine-in at restaurants, where people will take their face shields and masks off when eating,” Velasco added. “This is not to argue that all protocols should be abolished; all we’re arguing is that we should be implementing feasible and sensible health and safety principles by now in dealing with the pandemic.”

Velasco emphasized the economic burden being imposed on Filipinos in enforcing the required use of face shields, stating that the purchase of a face shield of between PHP20 to PHP50 is already a large amount similar to the cost of a meal for our destitute people.

On Tuesday, Malacañang encouraged all local government units (LGUs) to observe President Rodrigo Duterte’s current stance on the wearing of face shields in the country.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque appealed to LGUs to wait for the IATF’s final decision which would also be approved by Duterte.

Roque warned that if any LGU issues a new face shield policy, the public may defy Duterte’s command to continue wearing it in enclosed settings.

“Hindi pupuwede kasing nagkakaniya-kaniya sa panahon ng pandemya,” he remarked in an online press briefing. “Respect na lang sa ating Presidente dahil lahat naman po ng desisyon ng IATF ay desisyon ng Presidente (Just respect the President since all of the IATF’s decisions are also the President’s decisions).”

To combat the spread of the coronavirus sickness 2019, the IATF-EID issued Resolution 88 on December 14, 2020, ordering all persons to wear full-coverage face shields on top of face masks in all public locations (Covid-19).

Duterte ordered the public to wear face shields exclusively in hospitals in June this year, but with the presence of the more virulent Delta Covid-19 form, he opted to stick to the IATF-initial EID’s stance.

In September of this year, he stated that the usage of face shields will be limited to the “3Cs,” or “closed and congested spaces, and close contact.”

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