Duterte says face shields must still be worn indoors, outdoors

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 21) — The public must continue to wear face shields outdoors and crowded indoor places for now, President Rodrigo Duterte said on Monday.

The President took up the issue during his weekly address regarding COVID-19, adding that he recognized the inconvenience of wearing face shields, but said it was a "small price to pay" to keep the public safe from the virus.

“Many thought that we were ready to do away with the face mask. But with the kind of aggressive infection that poses a very grave danger to, it's a small inconvenience, actually...but that is only a small price to pay, than rather gamble with doing away with it and courting disaster," he said.

Duterte said he was left with no choice but to follow the suggestion of experts.

"As of now the face mask is on. Wala tayong magawa [We can't do anything]...uh, the face shield... ‘Yun na lang ang pangkontra ko [That is what I can do now]," he said.

Following Duterte's pronouncement, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno told CNN Philippines' The Source on Tuesday that the city government will comply with the retained policy, weeks after his clamor for an updated study on the effectivity of face shields against COVID-19.

"Then we will continue to recognize the policy and implement it. As I have said before, and very clear, if scientists see that the face shield is still needed in the country, then we will do so," he said.

Infectious disease specialist Dr. Edsel Salvaña, who was among the resource persons in the briefing, said the Delta variant was 40% more infectious outdoors, and 60% more infectious indoors.

"It would be nice to have an extra layer of security even if hindi naman [not really] required, the TAG (technical advisory group) would still recommend to continue to use face shields even outdoors, especially with the threat of the Delta variant," he said.

READ: PH records more cases of Delta coronavirus variant

Dr. Anna Ong-Lim of the IATF TAG also said there have been several studies showing that wearing face masks and face shields, as well as observing physical distancing, greatly reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19.

She added that the TAG strongly recommends the wearing of face shields outdoors and indoors because ventilation cannot be fully controlled.

Duterte admitted his initial comments about face shields was when he was "shooting the breeze" with congressmen and that he never said "with finality" that we could do away with face shields.

The President said that "another wave" of the virus would be disastrous for the country and it would be better to be stricter with protocols.

Earlier in the day, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte had changed his mind and that the public still needed to wear face shields indoors and outdoors.

"Acting on the advice of health experts and in view of the Delta variant, PRRD (President Rodrigo Roa Duterte) declared that the wearing of face shields, both indoor and outdoor, is still mandatory," tweeted Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.

In a previous briefing, Roque had said that wearing face shields outside was no longer required.

Roque, who is also spokesman of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, said the team only appealed the use of face shields in enclosed, indoor spaces or crowded places.

The IATF maintained that face shields should still be required in hospitals, workplaces, commercial establishments, public transport terminals and places of worship.