Isko Moreno urges gov't to scrap face shield policy

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 2) — Manila Mayor Francisco "Isko Moreno" Domagoso on Wednesday urged national authorities to lift the policy requiring the use of face shields in public places.

"Ang face shield ay dapat ipatigil nang i-require sa general population at gamitin na lamang sa ospital upang makabawas sa gastusin at intindihin ng taumbayan," he said.

[Translation: The requirement for the general population to use face shields should be stopped, and these should just be used in hospitals to lessen the expenses and problems of the public.]

"Tayo na lang yata sa buong mundo ang nag-rerequire ng face shield sa kalsada. Dapat pag-isipan uli ito... We should adjust," Moreno added.

[Translation: We might be the only country in the world that requires the use of face shields in the streets. We need to rethink this.]

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases - the policy-making body in the government's pandemic response - made it mandatory for people to wear full face shields together with face masks in public places to "effectively lessen the transmission of COVID-19."

Prior to this, face shields were only required when riding public transportation and in entering malls.

The Department of Health is still recommending the use of face shields and face masks - even for Filipinos who have completed their COVID-19 shots - to further reduce risk of transmission.

In a Facebook post, Infectious Diseases specialist Dr. Edsel Salvaña reiterated that the decision to require the use of face shields “is grounded on solid science.”

“There is evidence from India that wearing a face shield on top of a face mask reduced transmission in community healthcare workers who were going house to house to check on COVID-19 suspects,” explained Salvaña, who is also a member of the Health Department's technical advisory group.

He added that eye protection decreases risk of getting infected by 78%, and if coupled with physical distancing and masks can further reduce risk by more than 90%.

“Masks + Shield + Physical Distance + Good Ventilation is part of the "Swiss Cheese" model which states that multiple layers of protection serve to further decrease the risk when imperfect interventions are used together,” Salvaña said.

The expert then emphasized that it is not yet time for the Philippines to relax minimum health standards despite “plateauing cases,” since this can easily increase again. This can only be considered once more people are vaccinated, he added.

“We just have to keep at it and we will soon regain our freedom. Further missteps will just prolong the pandemic,” he said.

Latest data showed the country's coronavirus tally has reached 1,240,716, of which 52,132 or 4.2% are active cases or people currently sick.