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IATF: Don't leave home without face shields, face masks

Gaea Katreena Cabico (Philstar.com) - December 15, 2020 - 1:28pm

MANILA, Philippines — People must now wear plastic face shields whenever they leave home, the Palace announced on Tuesday.

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases ordered the mandatory wearing of full face shield on top of a face mask to “effectively lessen the transmission of COVID-19,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a briefing Tuesday.

“It's really because of the possibility that a surge can happen during the holidays. It's an additional protection to prevent the surge,” Roque said.

Previously, the government only required people to wear the face shields only when entering enclosed spaces such as shopping malls. The use of face masks has been mandatory for months.

Roque stressed that full-coverage face shields should be worn. Face shields that only cover half of a person’s face are not permitted.

What WHO, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say

According to the World Health Organization, face masks should be used "as part of a comprehensive strategy of measures to suppress transmission and save lives."

Aside from wearing face masks, the WHO advises maintaining physical distance of at least one meter, frequent handwashing, and avoiding touching the mask and one's face.

The WHO says that medical-grade face masks are required for health workers, those taking care of possible COVID-19 cases at home or at an isolation facility, and those who are more susceptible to the disease like the elderly.

"For areas of widespread transmission, with limited capacity for implementing control measures and especially in settings where physical distancing of at least one meter is not possible — such as on public transport, in shops or in other confined or crowded environments — WHO advises governments to encourage the general public to use non-medical fabric masks," it also says.

Physical distancing must still be observed even if one is wearing a mask.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says in a separate advisory that "masks are recommended as a simple barrier to help prevent respiratory droplets from traveling into the air and onto other people when the person wearing the mask coughs, sneezes, talks, or raises their voice."

US CDC also points out that face shields cannot substitute for face masks.

"Face shields have large gaps below and alongside the face, where your respiratory droplets may escape and reach others around you. At this time, we do not know how much protection a face shield provides to people around you," it also said.

It said that face shields should wrap around the face and extend below the chin. "This is based on the limited available data that suggest these types of face shields are better at preventing spray of respiratory droplets," it said.

COVID-19 cases in the Philippines reached 450,733 Monday, of which 23,353 or 5.2 were active infections. The OCTA Research Team earlier projeced that coronavirus infections could reach 480,000 by end-2020. 

Government officials have been calling on the public to follow minimum health protocols such as face mask wearing, frequent handwashing and maintaining physical distance. 

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