Senate inquiry sought into use of face shields vs. COVID-19
In this photo taken on September 8, 2020, passengers wearing face shields have their temperature taken before boarding a bus in Manila. Many face the new normal in the Philippines, where it is now compulsory to wear both face masks and plastic shields in indoor public spaces and on public transport to curb the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
AFP/Ted Aljibe

Senate inquiry sought into use of face shields vs. COVID-19

(Philstar.com) - June 23, 2021 - 9:18pm

MANILA, Philippines — Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Wednesday sought for a probe into the chamber to determine if face shields really work to prevent the transmission of COVID-19.

The Senate leader had been opposing the said government policy that, only this week, President Rodrigo Duterte put to rest questions on when he retained its mandatory wearing both indoors and outdoors.

He has essentially spared Duterte — who gave the final word — from criticism and instead, took aim on "so-called experts" and further remarked: "Now, I know why the handling of the pandemic is not good."

Health authorities have insisted that face shields provide additional protection against COVID-19, especially with the recent developments on the Delta variant.

Sotto's Senate Resolution 757 would direct the Committee of the Whole to hold an inquiry on using face shields, per a report by News5. He said that while the health department had submitted documents on supposed global studies, none proved to be conclusive.

"For the marginalized and poor, face shield is very costly for something that do not afford protection against the virus," Sotto added. "Our people should rather invest in a proper mask that is scientifically proven to protect them from the virus."

In last week's hearing of the committee, the Senate leader directed health officials to turn in as well a list of countries that mandate face shields. And while he said there were nations such as China, South Korea and the United States, to name a few, its use was not required.

Sotto further noted that the Delta variant, or that first seen in India, has been detected in 74 countries but none had imposed the wearing of face shields.

The number of cases from the said variant in the Philippines has since climbed to 17.

Citing the US' Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Sotto added that "face shields are not as effective at protecting you or the people around you from respiratory droplets. Face shield are only an alternative for people who are not advisable to wear mask."

While the inquiry would be done "in aid of legislation," it remains to be seen if it would move officials from the pandemic task force to recommend to Duterte to scrap the policy. 

Face shields in the Philippines were first made mandatory in December 2020.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III has said that they would study calls to drop the use when vaccinations for COVID-19 reach a significant number of the population.

So far, more than 2.1 million Filipinos have completed their vaccine doses out of the government's goal of 50 to 70 million this year. Some 6.4 million, meanwhile, have received their first dose. — Christian Deiparine, with a report from Marie Ann Los Baños/News5

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