THE Department of Health (DOH) stressed that no single method can provide full protection against COVID-19 and face shields provide another layer of protection against the deadly virus.
This is in the wake of recommendations on the removal of mandatory use of face shields in public places.
The DOH said the set minimum public health standards (MPHS) — proper wearing of face mask and face shield, regularly washing or disinfecting hands or high-touch surfaces, observing physical distance of less than one meter from persons outside their households, and ensuring proper ventilation in indoor spaces — are non-pharmacological interventions that, when consistently done and observed altogether, will significantly help reduce risk of COVID-19 transmission and infection.
It added that as the government hopes to vaccinate more Filipinos, everyone belonging to priority groups are encouraged to get vaccinated to add another layer of protection against the virus.
“We understand the concerns raised on the government’s policy on wearing of face shields and we are open to dialogues in improving our health policies. However, the nationwide case trend is plateauing and not decreasing. The increase in cases is slowly shifting in other regions outside the NCR plus. With this trend, we cannot afford to relax the policies on personal preventive measures. We can consider loosening up these measures when we see a continuous significant decline in our daily COVID-19 cases and/or once a significant portion of our population, especially the vulnerable sectors, the elderly and then persons with comorbidities, have been fully vaccinated,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Singh-Vergeire said.
The benefits of using a face shield or face mask or both as published in various studies suggest that one may offer better protection than the other on specific scenarios or depending on the size of particulate matter the protective equipment is blocking. One of the studies further underscores that the use of face shields alone would be inadequate, but the use of both face mask and shield can provide better protection against infections.
A study by Bhaskar and Arun (2020) among community health workers in India, suggests that, after the introduction of face shields to 50 of the health workers who counseled 118,428 persons in May 2020, none of the healthcare workers were infected with COVID-19.
Furthermore, in the Living Clinical Practice Guidelines of the Philippine Society for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases and University of the Philippines – National Institutes of Health for COVID-19 as of May 2021, evidence still suggest the public’s use of face mask plus protective eyewear such as face shield or goggles in areas with sustained community transmission of the virus.
With the recent increase in COVID-19 cases, the DOH urged the public to strictly observe the minimum public health standards and get vaccinated when it’s their turn to curb the transmission of COVID-19. LGUs are also called on to strengthen the Prevention, Detection, Isolation, Treatment, and Reintegration Strategies for COVID-19 to keep case rates down and save lives.