Duterte on face shields: I never said with finality that we should do away with it
MANILA (3rd UPDATE) — Wearing of face shields is mandatory both indoors and outdoors, Malacañang said on Monday, after the Philippines detected 4 more cases of the more contagious Delta COVID-19 variant.
"Acting on the advice of health experts and in view of the Delta variant, PRRD declared that the wearing of face shields, both indoor and outdoor, is still mandatory," Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said on Twitter.
Asked if this is now an official policy, Roque replied in the affirmative in a text message.
President Rodrigo Duterte, in a taped meeting Monday night, said there was no finality in his previous statement regarding the use of face shields.
"Alam mo kasi (You know), when I mentioned about the face shield, I was only shooting the breeze with congressmen, with the members of the Congress who were there. I never said with finality that we would do away with the face shield," he said.
"I will agree with you, considering that this D variant is very aggressive and it can proliferate in so much short period of time. We may experience a second wave much more serious than the first. Ang problema diyan is I do not think it will require the same vaccines that we are using now...It's a small inconvenience, really," Duterte added.
Duterte last week limited the use of face shields at hospitals. But the COVID-19 task force urged him to require the plastic face coverings in enclosed and indoor spaces in more public places.
The health department said earlier in the day it has detected a total of 17 cases of the Delta COVID-19 variant that was first monitored in India.
Dr. Edsel Salvana, a member of the Department of Health's Technical Advisory Group, said the strain is 40% more contagious outdoors and 50% more indoors, and that wearing a face shield will be adding another layer of defense.
"We will still recommend [the public] to use face shields, even outdoors, especially with the threat of the Delta variant," he said.
Philippine General Hospital's Dr. Anna Lisa Ong-Lim also noted that in India, more healthcare workers not wearing face shields were infected with the COVID-19 strain than those using the protective equipment.
"Dahil po sa proteksyon na maaari ibigay ng face shield at sa patuloy na pagdami ng COVID-19 variants na napatunayan naman nating mas nakakahawa, inirerekomenda na ipagpatuloy ang pagsuot ng faceshield sa labas ng bahay," she said.
The variant triggered a catastrophic wave of coronavirus cases in India. It is fast becoming the globally dominant variant of the disease, the World Health Organization's chief scientist said last week.
In May, the World Health Organization (WHO) termed it a "variant of concern," citing its high transmissibility.
The original variant detected in Wuhan, China can infect about 2 people, said Philippine Genome Center Executive Director Dr. Cynthia Saloma.
The Alpha variant observed in the UK is transmissible to up to 4 or 5 people, while the Delta variant can infect up to 8 persons at a time, she said in a Palace briefing.
Health officials said face shields provide an added protection on those already wearing face masks.
The Philippines has suspended the entry of travelers from India and 6 other countries to contain the spread of the Delta variant.
With some 1.3 million coronavirus infections and around 23,000 deaths, the Philippines has the second highest COVID-19 tally in Southeast Asia, next to Indonesia.
– With a report from Reuters