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On workers' appeal to do away with face shields, DOH says it's up to IATF

Department of Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire on Monday said it is up to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to address the appeal of some workers to do away with face shields.

“Iyon pong mga nagwe-welding na nagsusuot ng industry goggles saka may takip iyong mukha, okay lang po iyon [na walang face shield] pero iyong sa ibang industries, I would suggest they write to IATF so this [concern] can be discussed there,” Vergeire said.

For his part, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the mandatory use of face shields was not “unreasonable.”

“Alam ninyo po kasi, ang pagsusuot ng face shields napatunayan na po iyan sa siyensa na nakakatulong doon sa pagpigil ng kalat ng COVID-19,” he said in a televised briefing.

“Considering bumagsak na po ang presyo ng face shield hindi po unreasonable na requirement iyan ng IATF.”

Employees involved in factory work and construction have appealed for an exemption from the mandatory use of face shields, citing the constraints these bring to their work.

According to Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) spokesperson Alan Tanjusay, workers are finding it hard to fulfill their responsibilities due to the face shield.

Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) president Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr. added that if office workers were finding it difficult to work with face shields, this was certainly the case at construction sites and on factory floors.

Vergeire however maintained that the wearing of face shields has been proven to drastically reduce the chance of being infected with COVID-19.

“If you wear a mask, it is 67% [reduction of risk being infected with COVID-19. If you also wear a face shield, it could go up to 80%. Samahan mo pa ng social distancing, it could go as high as 99%. That is why the IATF has maintained its position [on using face shields],” Vergeire added.

Wearing of face shields has been made mandatory in workplaces and commercial establishments last month.

The Philippines has recorded 304,226 COVID-19 cases as of Sunday. Of this number, 252,510 recovered while 5,344 died. 

The number of active COVID-19 cases is at 46,372. — with Virgil Lopez/KG/RSJ, GMA News