Expert urges continued use of face shields amid low COVID-19 vaccination rate in PH
MANILA - An infectious disease expert on Monday called on the public to continue using face shields as the country's vaccination rate remained low.
"I think, at this time, it will be safer to use or recommend face shields while vaccine coverage is still low and also physical distancing can’t be guaranteed at all times," said Dr. Anna Flor Malundo of the Philippine General Hospital.
As of June 2, the Philippines has administered over 5.38 million vaccine shots against COVID-19, including 4,088,422 first doses. A total of 1,293,750 people have meanwhile completed the 2-dose regimen.
The debate over the use of face shields came after Manila City Mayor Isko Moreno urged the Department of Health to lift the policy requiring it in public places, saying it is an additional expense to Filipinos.
While there is "very limited published information" on the use of face shields in public places, Malundo said the government was "leaning on the side of safety".
"Given the limited information that we have, I think we are taking the side of safety of actually recommending the use of face shield in the current pandemic, especially the surge that we have experienced last March," she said.
Most of the studies, Malundo said, were in health-care setting, which showed reduction in the transmission of COVID-19.
Despite using face shields, Malundo said the country still experienced a surge in COVID-19 cases that "caused a great burden to our health-care setting."
"If we will remove this additional protection, I'm not sure what will happen in the number of cases," she added.
Last week, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III rejected calls to scrap the policy, saying it is backed by science.
"There are many scientific studies showing that face shields in combination with face masks and more than 1 meter social distancing provide greater than 95 percent protection!" he said.