PH may bring back mandatory face shield use amid Omicron variant

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 28 2021 07:11 PM

MANILA - The Philippine government may bring back the mandatory use of face shields anew amid the threat of COVID-19's Omicron variant, a top official said on Sunday.

In a virtual press conference, vaccine czar and National Task Force chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. said they have yet to decide on it, but the government is keen on requiring the use of any additional protection to keep people safe.

"We will look at the possibility. 'Yan nga 'yung inaano ni Secretary Duque na he is, he is pro na ano, maibalik 'yung any protection na pwede nating gamitin. Kasi some people from WHO also believe na kaya nagkaroon tayo ng result dito sa Delta as compared to others is because of the added protection of the face shield," he said.

(We will look at the possibility. That is what Secretary Duque is saying, he is for the use of any protection that we can use. Some people from WHO also believe that we had a better result in dealing with the Delta variant compared to others is because of the added protection of the face shield.)

This statement comes a day after the World Health Organization classified the B.1.1.529 variant detected in South Africa as a SARS-CoV-2 "variant of concern," saying it may spread more quickly than other forms.

Preliminary evidence suggested there is an increased risk of reinfection and there had been a "detrimental change in COVID-19 epidemiology," it said in a statement after a closed meeting of independent experts who reviewed the data.

Infections in South Africa had risen steeply in recent weeks, coinciding with detection of the variant now designated as omicron, WHO said.

It was less than two weeks ago when the government said it would ditch requiring face shields in almost all public areas in areas under COVID-19 Alert Level 3 and below.

Effective "immediately", the face plastic covers would be required only in areas under Alert Level 5, the strictest quarantine classification in the country, while local government units of areas under Level 4 can decide if use of face shields in public venues will be mandatory or not.

'RECALIBRATING' ALERT LEVELS

Meanwhile, Galvez also said the government will be "recalibrating" its plan regarding the quarantine alert levels in the country, considering the detection of the Omicron variant.

"Sa ngayon, considering that we have the variant, it will change everything. So magkakaroon tayo ng recalibration kung anong gagawin natin, and most likely kung ano 'yung ginawa natin previously, doon sa Delta which we successfully made our pandemic response, very responsive and preemptive," he said.

(Right now considering that we have the variant, it will change everything. So we will have a recalibration on what we should do next, and most likely, we will do what we did before with the Delta variant, which we successfully made our pandemic response, very responsive and preemptive."

Metro Manila and its neighboring regions will remain under Alert Level 2 until November 30, according to the directive released by the IATF earlier this month.

Business groups had earlier called for a further easing of quarantine restrictions to Alert Level 1 amid the high vaccination rate in Metro Manila.

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