Roque Insists That Face Shields Protect Against COVID-19

The use of face mask and face shield is the equivalent of vaccination, he said.

PHOTO BY Shutterstock ILLUSTRATION War Espejo

(SPOT.ph) The Philippine government first enforced the wearing of face shields aside from face masks in August 2020, when they required it from all passengers in public transportation. Almost a year later, people are still getting apprehended and fined for not wearing the shield while out in the streets in this Manila heat. However, in the last few weeks, suggestions to drop this rule were voiced out by medical anthropologist Dr. Gideon Lasco as well as Manila Mayor Isko Moreno. But Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque insisted on Thursday, June 3 that face shields help protect the public against COVID-19.

On Thursday's online briefing, Roque said: "Statistically, kapag ikaw po ay nag-mask, face shield at distancing, halos equivalent po ang protection niyan sa bakuna. So sa akin po, sa siyensya, may basehan po 'yan." He cited a statement by Dr. Edsel Salvana, who said that wearing a face shield helps against virus transmision.

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Lasco pointed out on social media on May 20 that all countries that have controlled COVID "never required face shields." He also suggested that it's "time to end the Philippines' baseless, inconvenient, and environmentally harmful face shield mandate, especially in outoor spaces where there's zero evidence of its benefit.

Likewise, Moreno on June 2 urged the Palace to lift the policy. "Dapat ipatigil na ang pag-require ng face shield sa general population at gamitin na lamang sa ospital upang makabawas sa gastusin at intindihin ng taumbayan," he said.

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Back in December 2020, infectuous disease expert Benjamin Co also advised against the use of face shields when outdoors, especially among cyclists. "It can be steamed, fogged up. When it happens, you wont be able to see what's in front of you, and it can cause accidents," he explained.

In an Inquirer interview on June 2, Co also emphasized that only the hospital-grade face shields work against aerosol transmission because they are sealed, unlike those used by the public that are "porous on all sides." He also explained that the acetate or plastic shields can also be unhygienic because they're seldom sanitized after use.

"Science evolves and we know more about the virus. I hope the [government] adjusts to the new science and evidence and not remain fixated with a policy [crafted early in] the pandemic," Co said.

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