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Is it time to ditch face shields? IATF reconsiders requirement as COVID-19 cases go down

By AYIE LICSI Published Nov 02, 2021 5:14 pm

As COVID-19 cases decline, the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases is deciding whether or not wearing face shields indoors will still be required, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said on Nov. 2.

“I can confirm po na habang bumababa ang mga numero ay pinag-uusapan na rin po kung ipagpapatuloy pa ang pagsuot ng face shields,” Roque said in a press briefing. "Pero wala pa pong desisiyon so suot pa rin po tayo ng face shields. Nililinaw ko lang po, bagamat dumadami ang sumusuporta sa hindi na paggamit ng face shields dahil bumababa ang numero, sa ngayon po, isuot pa rin ang face shields lalong-lalo na sa 3 Cs."

Since Sept. 23, face shields are no longer required outdoors except in areas classified as 3 Cs: closed, crowded, and close contact.

In the past, the face shield policy has been a subject of debate with many questioning the scientific basis for it.

At the same briefing, infectious disease expert Dr. Edsel Salvaña emphasized the importance of face shields in protecting areas of the face not covered by the mask.

"Aside from the double layer of protection, yung eye protection is also important. Kaya nga rin may nakakalusot, yung iba kahit naka double mask sila, dahil pwede pa rin pumasok yung virus sa mata," he said

However, Salvaña agrees that relaxing the policy can be discussed now and that it should only be lifted for indoor spaces "once everyone is vaccinated."

In the past, Salvana has said that the face shield and face mask combo is "pretty much" an equivalent to double masking.

Meanwhile, former COVID-19 task force adviser Dr. Tony Leachon shared his views on face shields on Twitter. "CDC does not recommend using face shields or goggles as a substitute for masks," he tweeted, sharing a link from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention which said that face shields are "not as effective at protecting you or the people around you from respiratory droplets."

"While we are seeing good results, let's maintain the status quo of being vigilant," he said in another tweet. "Face shields to be worn with masks in high-risk enclosed areas, e.g. hospitals, and ditch in open spaces. People who would not want to wear face shields can continue to do so. It should not be mandatory."

The government first required the public to wear face shields in December 2020. The Philippines is the only country requiring people to wear it indoors.