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PH gov’t eyes return of face shields amid fears over Omicron variant

By Hannah Mallorca Published Nov 29, 2021 12:28 pm

Just a few weeks after the government made the wearing of face shields outdoors as optional, the controversial gear may be slated for a comeback due to the threat of the Omicron COVID-19 variant,

In a briefing on Sunday, Nov. 29, National Task Force (NTF) policy chief implementer Carlito Galvez, Jr. said they will look into the possibility of reimposing the use of face shields in public spaces. 

“Some people from the World Health Organization also believe na nagkaroon tayo ng magandang results dito sa Delta variant, as compared to others, is because of the added protection due to face shields,” Galvez said.

Galvez added that Health Secretary Francisco Duque III also approves of the idea, noting that he’s in favor of implementing any measure that could help the country in the fight against COVID-19.

“(Duque) is pro na maibalik ang any protection na pwede nating gamitin… nakita po natin sa ating protocols na pag may higher levels, pwede po natin ibalik ang face shield, kung ano po ang pwedeng additional protections na pwede, titignan natin,” he added.

Galvez further noted that face shields helped in lowering the COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila. “Kami ang nagrecommend ng face shield and nakita natin na n’ung ginamit natin, bumagsak ang kaso dito sa Metro Manila.”

Galvez stated anew that they are reconsidering reinstating the face shield mandate during the liver interview of PTV-4's Laging Handa press briefing on Nov. 29, "Malaki ang naitulong ng face shields sa pagkontra sa pagkalat ng virus."

On Nov. 15, President Rodrigo Duterte earlier lifted the requirement of using face shields in public spaces, but would remain mandatory in areas placed under Alert Level 5 and in “3Cs.” Areas covered under 3Cs are closed, crowded, and close contact which is likely to occur such as hospitals and other medical facilities. 

Meanwhile, the use of face shields in areas under Alert Level 4 was left to the discretion of the Local Government Units (LGUs) and other private establishments.

No case of the Omicron variant has been detected in the Philippines, as of this writing. Despite this, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases banned the entry of tourists from South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, Austria, Czech Hungary, Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, and Italy until Dec. 15. 

The Philippines has recorded 828 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, bringing the country’s total cases to 2,831,807, as of Nov. 28.