Health experts still recommending use of face shield for protection vs COVID-19 variants

Published June 18, 2021, 8:34 PM

by Analou de Vera

People form a line leading to a community pantry in Sta. Mesa, Manila on April 30, 2021 (Ali Vicoy/Manila Bulletin/File Photo)

Infectious disease experts are still recommending to the public to wear face shields as it is one of the measures to prevent the spread of highly transmissible variants of coronavirus.

Face shield is another form of protection against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), said Dr. Edsel Salvana of the Department of Health (DOH) Technical Advisory Group.

“I still strongly recommend it, especially with the threat of the variant and I, myself when I’m interacting with other people, I will use these face shields,” he said on Friday, June 18 in a public press briefing.

Citing studies, he said that the Delta variant, which originated from India, is more transmissible than the original coronavirus as well as the Alpha variant.

“Sa pag-aaral, ang Delta variant is 60 percent more transmissible than Alpha. Ano ba iyong Alpha? Iyong Alpha is UK variant which is already 60 percent more transmissible than the original virus (In studies, the Delta variant is 60 percent more transmissible than Alpha. What is Alpha? Alpha is the UK variant which is already 60 percent more transmissible than the original virus),” he explained.

“So, 60 percent plus 60 percent pa. So, halos four times po iyong puwedeng maging increase transmissibility nito and there is preliminary data that even outdoors increased ang transmission ng Delta variant by about 40 percent (So, 60 percent plus 60 percent more. So, the increase in transmissibility is almost four times and there is preliminary data that even outdoors, the transmission of the Delta variant may increase by about 40 percent),” he added.

This was also the point of view of Dr. Rontgene Solante, chief of the Adult Infectious Diseases and Tropical Medicine unit at the San Lazaro Hospital in Manila.

“With possible variant driven transmission, double protection using face shield and face mask is important,” Solante said in a text message to the Manila Bulletin.

Related story: Face shield protects wearer vs COVID-19, DOH reiterates

According to Solante, face shield “is an important additional layer of protection on top of face mask where risk of droplet exposure and exposure is high” such as in the following settings:

-Enclosed spaces with poor air flow ventilation and physical distance are not observed like the market or grocery stores.

-Transportation system—where physical distancing is not observed like jeepneys and air flow ventilation is not possible like inside a taxi.

For outdoor settings, Solante said that the face shield is not “ideal to wear”.

“But if outdoors and crowded—with lots of talking and shouting like Divisoria then face shield is important,” he emphasized.

President Duterte has agreed to wear face shields in hospitals only, said Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque and Senate President Vicente Sotto III. There is no final decision as to whether or not the face shield policy will eventually be relaxed.

To note, the presence of various coronavirus variants first detected in India, United Kingdom, South Africa, and Brazil were already detected in the Philippines.