Return of face shield rule not 'necessarily required' amid Omicron risk— expert

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 30 2021 12:42 PM | Updated as of Nov 30 2021 01:53 PM

People visit SM By the Bay at the Mall of Asia complex in Pasay City on November 19, 2021. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News
People visit SM By the Bay at the Mall of Asia complex in Pasay City on November 19, 2021. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA— The mandatory use of face shields in public places may not be "necessarily required" for now, an infectious disease specialist said Monday, amid a downtrend in virus cases in the country and the risk posed by the Omicron COVID-19 variant.

Dr. Edsel Salvaña, member of the Department of Health's Technical Advisory Group, instead called on the public to get vaccinated and continue observing health protocols.

"Ngayon kasi, mababa talaga 'yung number of cases. Baka naman hindi pa necessarily required," he told TeleRadyo.

(For now, our number of cases is low. It may not be necessarily required.)

"Pero 'pag nakita natin na tumataas or pumasok, baka sabihin natin sa mga tao... kailangan natin gamitin 'yung face shield. It's an extra layer po [of protection]," he added.

(But if we notice there is an increase [of cases] or [the virus has] entered, we may tell the public... let's use face shields. It's an extra layer of protection.)

Salvaña noted that face shields were still being used in areas with higher risk of infection.

It was less than 2 weeks ago when the government ditched the required 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. No area in the country is, however, under such alert level.

Meanwhile, local government units in areas under Level 4 can decide if use of face shields in public venues will be mandatory or not.

"Mas maganda po for now cautious po tayo para po ma-sustain natin 'yung gains at mas maganda po ang ating magiging Christmas," Salvaña said.

(For now, it's good if we stay cautious so we could sustain our gains and we'll have a Merry Christmas.)

The Omicron variant was first reported to the World Health Organization from South Africa on Nov. 24.

The new variant has a large number of mutations, "some of which are concerning," the agency has said.

Preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with Omicron, as compared to other variants of concern.

On Monday, the Philippines reported 665 fresh COVID-19 cases, the lowest daily tally since June last year.

Meanwhile, the country inoculated about 2.4 million Filipinos on the first day of the 3-day national vaccination drive against COVID-19.

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