Speaker Lord Allan Velasco is asking President Rodrigo Duterte to reconsider the mandatory use of face shields as an added protection amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a letter addressed to Duterte and a copy furnished to Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, Velasco pointed out that the use of face shield only adds financial burden to Filipinos who are already bearing the brunt of the health crisis.
Velasco further said there is no solid medical evidence that the use of face shields is effective in curbing the transmission of coronavirus.
“May I humbly and respectfully recommend that the COVID-19 Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) and the Department of Health, both under the Executive Department, reconsider the mandatory use of plastic face shields for the general public (under IATF Resolution No. 88 and Joint Memorandum Circular 2021-0001 on the Clarificatory Guidelines on the Mandatory Use of Face Shields Outside of Residence for COVID-19 Mitigation, respectively) when going out of their homes or indoors, including in malls, commercial establishments, and public transportation,” Velasco said in his letter dated September 20.
“The use of face shields has made little difference in protecting against the transmission of COVID-19 over the proper use of masks alone, and imposes an additional burden to poor Filipino families already reeling from the adverse effect of the pandemic on their livelihood,” he added.
He said the cost of the face shield, which is about P20 toP50, is already a substantial amount equivalent to the cost of a meal for poor Filipinos.
“Mandatory requirement of the same takes away money for food from these families,” Velasco said.
Velasco also said the World Health Organization, as well as the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recommended the use of eye protection, such as goggles and face shields, only for those providing direct care to COVID-19 patients.
Citing findings of the epidemiology experts, Velasco recommended requiring the use of face shields plus face masks, apart from personal protective equipment, “only for enclosed spaces with high transmission of COVID-19 such as hospitals and quarantine facilities.”
The President has insisted that wearing face shields is a small inconvenience needed to be endured, claiming that it offers some defense against COVID-19.
“It will provide an added premium of prevention. It might not really be a big percentage but even if it’s just a five percent of you being more protected because you have the shield, eh mas maganda na ‘yan [it would be the better option],” Duterte had said. — RSJ, GMA News