WHO looking into PH’s face shield policy vs COVID-19

Published August 31, 2021, 10:29 PM

by Analou de Vera

The Philippine government is requiring the use of face shields when going outdoors or when in indoor public places. Health officials maintain that face shields provide an added protection against COVID-19. (JANSEN ROMERO/MANILA BULLETIN File Photo)

The World Health Organization (WHO) said it is looking into the country’s experience of implementing the use of face shield against coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

During an online forum on Tuesday, Aug.31, WHO Country Representative to the Philippines Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe said that “face shields are being used to reduce the likelihood of infection through the eyes, and so that’s not actually (an) additional layer— although it actually boosts the protection provided by poor mask wearing practices.”

However, in a statement sent by the Department of Health (DOH), it said that the WHO clarified his statement saying: “face shields may reduce the likelihood of infection through protection of the eyes and provide an additional layer of protection for those who are not wearing their masks properly.”

Abeyasinghe said that the Philippines is among the few countries that require the use of face shields.

“At this point in time we have been looking at the Philippine experience. The Philippines is one of few countries that advocates the wearing of face shields in addition to masks,” he said.

“It’s interesting that we have also been able to sort of delay the speed at which the Delta variant is spreading and we don’t know whether the face shields are contributory factor,” he added.

“So, while we are understanding all of these issues, it’s best to look for evidence and make decisions based on that,” he furthered.

In June, the DOH said that the set minimum public health standards — 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, 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.”