MANILA — Don’t throw away those face shields yet.
The Philippine National Police said Monday it is ready to implement the mandatory use of face shields, if adopted again by the government amid the threat of the Omicron COVID-19 variant.
"We will always abide with the IATF. At kung 'yan ay makakatulong para maiwasan 'yung pagkalat nitong (if that will help in preventing the spread of) COVID-19 virus, we leave it up to the experts," PNP chief Gen. Dionardo Carlos said in a press briefing.
He added, "Ang amin pong mga face shields ay nilagay lang namin sa tabi, pero nandiyan pa rin ho anytime."
(We only put our face shields aside, but they are still there [for use] anytime.)
Carlos made the remark amid growing concerns of the Omicron, which has spread to some parts of the world.
The new coronavirus variant, which was first detected in South Africa, has been classified by the World Health Organization as a "variant of concern".
Preliminary evidence suggests there may be an increased risk of reinfection with Omicron, which means people who have previously had COVID-19 could become reinfected more easily with the variant compared to other variants of concern.
However, it is not yet clear if Omicron is more transmissible compared to other SARS-CoV-2 variants or if it causes more severe disease, the WHO added.
On Sunday, Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., the government's chief implementer of its pandemic policies, said authorities were mulling the possibility of requiring face shields anew in public places.
"We will look at the possibility. That is what [Health] Secretary [Francisco] Duque is saying, he is for the use of any protection that we can use," he said in a mix of Filipino and English.
"Some people from WHO also believe that we had a better result in dealing with the Delta variant compared to others (and it) is because of the added protection of the face shield," he added.
It was less than two weeks ago when the government ditched the use of face shields in areas under COVID-19 Alert Level 3 and below.
Starting Nov. 15, the face plastic cover is 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.
Health experts said the face shield provides added protection against the virus.
—With a report from Raffy Santos, ABS-CBN News