Gov't mulls bringing back face shield policy
MANILA (UPDATED)— President Rodrigo Duterte said on Monday he wanted to "shoot dead" the newly discovered Omicron COVID-19 variant that has spread to more countries and posed very high risk of infection surges.
"Gusto kong patayin ‘yan kaya lang hindi ko malaman kung saan ko—gusto kong barilin ‘yan buang na ‘yan," Duterte said in a meeting with the National Task Force Against COVID-19.
(I want to kill that but I don't know where—I want to shoot that fool.)
The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday no Omicron-linked deaths had yet been reported, though further research was needed to assess its potential to resist vaccines and immunity induced by previous infections.
Anticipating increased case numbers as the variant, first reported last week, spreads, the UN agency urged its 194 member states to accelerate vaccination of high-priority groups.
"Omicron has an unprecedented number of spike mutations, some of which are concerning for their potential impact on the trajectory of the pandemic," the WHO said.
"The overall global risk ...is assessed as very high."
Video courtesy of RTVM
BRING BACK FACE SHIELDS?
Duterte told the COVID-19 task force, "I would suggest to the task force to make a statement whether or not really ‘pag magdating itong Omicron na ‘to… maybe we’ll be strict again."
"We have to sort it out whether we have to reimpose the [face] shield kasi nakadagdag talaga [ng protection]," he added.
(I would suggest to the task force to make a statement whether or not really, when this Omicron arrives, maybe we’ll be strict again. We have to sort it out whether we have to reimpose the face shield because it adds protection.)
Government in mid-November made face shields voluntary in areas under COVID-19 Alert Levels 1 to 3. In areas under Levels 4 and 5, LGUs are allowed to make the wearing of face masks mandatory.
"Of course ‘pag pumasok po iyong Omicron at tumaas ang alert level, i-impose po ulit natin," Interior Secretary Eduardo Año told Duterte, referring to the face shield requirement.
(Of course, when Omicron enters and the alert level is raised, we will reimpose face shields.)
The health department recommends face shields in closed spaces, crowded areas, and close-contact settings, like the transport sector.
"As we have increased the carrying capacities of our public utility vehicles, I think now with the threat of this Omicron variant, it will be an added layer of position that will really be good for the public," Health Secretary Francisco Duque IIII said during the meeting.
— With reports from Jamaine Punzalan and Mico Abarro, ABS-CBN News; Reuters