NTF mulls return of face shield policy over Omicron variant

Published November 28, 2021, 5:27 PM

by Martin Sadongdong

Have you already disposed your face shields? The national government hopes not as it is already eyeing this equipment to help fight the spread of new variants of the coronavirus.

The re-implementation of a policy which requires the mandatory use of face shields in public places is now being considered by the country’s task force on coronavirus disease (COVID-19) amid the emergence of the “Omicron” (B1.1.529) variant.

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. wears a face shield as he led the government’s pilot implementation of the COVID-19 vaccination of adolescents and children aged 12 to 17 at the National Children’s Hospital in Quezon City on Oct. 15, 2021. (Photo: NTF Against COVID-19)

This was revealed by Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr., vaccine czar and chief implementer of the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19, on Sunday, Nov. 28, after the detection of Omicron in several African and European countries caused global panic and the tightening of restrictions.

In fact, Galvez said Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) chairman and Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III already favors this idea.

“We will look at the possibility. He [Duque] is pro na maibalik ang any protection na pwede nating gamitin (He [favors] the return of any protection that we can use),” he said in a virtual press briefing.

“Some people from the World Health Organization (WHO) also believes that we had a good campaign against the Delta variant as compared to other [countries] because of the added protection due to face shields,” he added.

Last Nov. 15, President Duterte approved the recommendation of the IATF to lift the mandatory use of face shields – effectively making it voluntary – in areas under Alert Level 1 to 3.

The mandatory use of face shields on top of face masks was limited to areas under Alert Level 5 and in “3Cs” or areas that are closed, crowded, and close contact is likely to occur such as hospitals and other medical facilities.

Meanwhile, its use in areas under Alert Level 4 was left to the discretion of local government units (LGUs) and private establishments.

So far, Galvez said the Philippines has yet to record a case of Omicron.