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Task Force Set To Issue Guidelines On Face Shields

Task Force Set To Issue Guidelines On Face Shields
People wear face masks and face shields as they wait for their turn to be vaccinated against COVID-19 at Tondo Medical Center in Manila on July 22, 2021. Photo by Edd Gumban, The Philippine STAR

The government’s pandemic task force is expected to issue guidelines on the use of face shields, Malacañang said on Thursday, Sept. 23, after President Duterte lifted the requirement to wear the facial cover outdoors.

 

 During a pre-recorded address last Wednesday, Sept. 22, Duterte said the public is no longer required to wear face shields outdoors, but should continue to do so in closed, crowded and close contact areas, or 3Cs. The President stressed, however, that wearing of face masks will still be mandatory. 

 

 “We expect the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases) to amend the guidelines to be affected by the directive of the President,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque said.

 

Roque stressed that the risk posed by the Delta variant has not waned and urged the public to continue observing minimum public health and safety standards.

Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Undersecretary Epimaco Densing III said they will issue revised guidelines on face shields but as a general rule, won’t require it outside anymore except for 3Cs areas.

“The President’s directive is clear and the 3Cs exceptions are still in place. Activities that, according to experience, can lead to super spreader events,” Densing added.

Support

Sen. Bong Go expressed support for lifting of the face shield requirement, adding that government should strike a balance between safety, comfort and economic considerations when recalibrating its COVID-19 pandemic policies.

“Let’s study whether it can be made voluntary to wear a face shield in areas where the risk of infection is low. It may not be mandatory if a place where people do not have close contact with each other is not closed or crowded,” explained Go, Senate committee on health chairman.

“Our main protection is the mask and the vaccine. The face shield is additional protection but it cannot be made mandatory if the risk is low according to experts,” Go said, stressing that wearing face shields must not hinder workplace performance as the country begins to reopen the economy.

Likewise, Speaker Lord Allan Velasco said he supports President Duterte’s decision, as face shields made “little difference” in preventing COVID transmission and just became an added financial burden to poor Filipino families.

Draft

Health Secretary Francisco Duque confirmed that the department is drafting guidelines on the use of face shields in ‘3Cs’ spaces.

“It is clear that use of face shield will be voluntary outdoors, but mandatory in close door, crowded and close contact. A team from the DOH Public Health Service is drafting the guidelines which we hope to be approved by the IATF,” Duque said, adding that the use of face shields is a “protective measure” against the Delta variant.

At this time, Duque said the DOH is verifying if the COVID trend in the country, particularly in the National Capital Region (NCR), has started to go down.

“We are validating if the trend is really downward or because fewer people are getting tested or opting to get tested. Hopefully, it will become clear that the downward trend is real,” he added. –  With Romina Cabrera, Mayen Jaymalin, Cecille Suerte Felipe