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Mayor Isko wants gov't to drop face shield policy, but some medical experts disagree

By Bim Santos Published Jun 03, 2021 1:30 pm

Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso wants the government to stop requiring the public from wearing face shields, which he said is just an added burden, but medical experts beg to disagree.

“Ang face shield ay dapat ipatigil nang i-require sa general population at gamitin na lamang sa ospital upang makabawas sa gastusin at intindihin ng taumbayan (Requiring the public to wear face shields should be stopped as it should just be used in hospitals to lessen the expenses of the people),” Domagoso said yesterday in an event and on social media.

“Tayo na lang yata sa buong mundo ang nagre-require ng face shield sa kalsada. Dapat pag-isipan uli ito. Marami na tayong natutunan. We should adjust. (It seems we are the only country in the world to require wearing face shields on the street. We should think about this. We have learned a lot. We should adjust).”

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases mandated the wearing of face shields on top of face masks last December, upon the recommendation of health experts.

Most countries in the world indeed have mask mandates rather than face shield on top of mask mandates. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has no recommendation for wearing face shields on top of face masks. 

But public health experts said the face shield requirement should not be removed.

Health reform advocate Dr. Anthony Leachon told PhilSTAR L!fe that the face shield mandate should stay “for public health reasons.” Leachon also cited a research study, also often cited by government, published in the journal The Lancet which showed that wearing face shields helped prevent transmission of the virus.

“As a public health advocate, we should take the higher road of protecting the people with limited vaccine supply as compliance of the people to health protocols is a continuous challenge,” Leachon said.

Leachon said the country should be careful now especially as “there’s a resurgence (of COVID-19 cases) all over the other regions.”

The Department of Health yesterday reported 5,257 new COVID-19 cases. Though the present trend has gone down from the peaks of over 10,000 in April, cases are still growing on a week-to-week basis in parts of Metro Manila and other provinces. The OCTA Research Group yesterday classified Metro Manila as under “moderate risk” due to an uptick in cases from May 26 to June 1 versus the preceding week.

In a Facebook post, infectious disease expert Dr. Edsel Salvana, who is also a government technical adviser, likewise said the face shield requirement should not be removed.

“The decision to add face shields to face masks in the Philippines is grounded on solid science,” Salvana said.

Salvana said that face shields provide eye protection and prevent people from touching their faces and pulling down their masks. 

“Our cases are plateauing in NCR and can easily go up again. Variants are here which are more transmissible. This is not the time to relax protection in any way,” said Salvana.

(Thumbnail and banner photo KJ Rosales / The Philippine Star)