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Duterte: Get face shield off protocols
Roque recognized that the DOH and other experts have been strongly recommending the continuing use of face shields, especially in indoor activities.

Duterte: Get face shield off protocols

Christina Mendez (The Freeman) - June 18, 2021 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  President Duterte has agreed with the suggestions to remove the use of face shields among the general population as part of the health protocols against coronavirus (2019) but the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) will likely be appealing the matter to the chief executive.

Although the President has spoken on the issue, presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said the matter will be discussed Thursday by the IATF, which will forward its collective decision to Duterte.

“Well, alam ninyo, ang IATF is recommendatory to the President ‘no and when the President has decided, then that’s the policy. This is without prejudice to IATF appealing possibly, and you very well know the position of the Department of Health,” Roque said.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III has said the President agreed that face shields should only be used in hospitals.

On top of community quarantine classifications, the DOH has been keen on the wearing of face masks and face shields as among the standard measures to prevent the spread of the virus, along with the frequent hand washing and social distancing.

Roque recognized that the DOH and other experts have been strongly recommending the continuing use of face shields, especially in indoor activities.

“So, I think the possible move of IATF now is to appeal what the President said and what was repeated to the public by the Senate President and Senator (Joel) Villanueva,” he said, noting that it was Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Villanueva who revealed the matter to the public.

The senators and other lawmakers had the chance to talk with Duterte in Malacañang last Wednesday when they witnessed the ceremonial signing of four new laws.

During yesterday briefing, UST Professor Nicanor Austriaco, a Filipino-American molecular biologist, said the wearing of face shields provides an additional nine percent protection against COVID-19.

When asked for his expert opinion, Austriaco said if that nine percent is “worth chasing,” it is a matter that’s for the government to decide.

“Whether this is worthwhile is a political decision,” he added.

If asked, Austriaco said he will recommend to the IATF that the face shields must still be used in high-risk areas, especially those which are facing a surge of cases since the nine percent protection may be important.

Cabinet Sec. Karlo Nograles, also IATF co-chairperson, said the issue on removing face shields as mandatory health requirement is among the topics to be discussed by the task force.

“We’ll run this through IATF,” he said.

“The IATF hasn’t issued a resolution or policy yet. Perhaps, this afternoon after the IATF meeting, we’ll have more definite answer from IATF because we have to discuss it among members of the IATF plus our medical experts,” Nograles said in a TV interview yesterday.

Welcome

Department of Health-7 spokesperson and chief pathologist Dr. Mary Jean Loreche said that requiring face shields at hospitals may be a welcome decision to most health workers.

“While it is true that there is no solid data that will prove its effectiveness in further shielding us from contracting the virus, we need to consider that face shields is just one of the many layers that we need to protect us,” Loreche said.

Loreche added that its continued use for healthcare workers, whether in the hospital setting or in vaccination sites, and for the ordinary citizens, when physical distancing and poor ventilation, is difficult to achieve.

“Let’s be wise in our individual adoption of the various measures that can help us in the containment of the virus,” Loreche said.

Rama’s support

In Cebu City, Acting Mayor Michael Rama expressed his support to the statement loosening the requirement of wearing face shields in public saying it is a “very noble move, very realistic move, and most of all, very practical move.”

Rama said that city is ready to adopt the guidelines the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) will craft in relation to the directive.

“Nganong dili man ta mo-adopt if it is scientific?… Kanang Presidente di man na mo-announce without also being founded or being supported by his stalwarts in the field of health,” said Rama.

Rama said some people only use face shields “for compliance” to be allowed to enter establishments like malls.

“Di ka kasulod og mall, inig sulod sa mall pa-face shield ta. Inig abot sa mall kuno, unsay buhaton sa face shield? Buhaton og headband. Mao nay nahitabo sa face shield, honored in the breach than in the compliance,” he said.

Rama, however, stressed that in the event that face shields would no longer be required when going outside and into non-medical establishments, people should still strictly observe the minimum health protocols like wearing of face mask, observing social distancing, and washing of hands regularly, among others. — Philippine Star News Service and Mary Ruth R. Malinao, Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon JMD (FREEMAN)

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