Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles has advised the public to wear face shields again if they can due to the threat of the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Nograles made the statement as the country closed its borders to 14 countries due to the highly mutated variant and because of the high number of cases in some territories.
In his press briefing on Monday, November 29, the acting Palace spokesman said while face shields are now voluntary in many areas in the Philippines including Metro Manila, it would be better to be on the safe side.
“Of course, it is an added layer of protection. While it is voluntary, siyempre (of course)– Ako (Me), personally, I would like to encourage ang ating mga kababayan (our countrymen) [to wear face shields],” he said.
“Kung kaya naman po magsuot ng face shield ay magsuot ng face shield para dagdag proteksyon na lamang po (If we can wear face shields then let’s wear face shields as an added layer of protection),” he added.
Despite this, he said the decision on the use of face shields will be up to the experts.
“Ito po ay mandatory sa mga healthcare settings at sa ibang settings naman po ay voluntary siya (Face shields are mandatory in healthcare settings while it is voluntary in other settings). But we ask the experts,” Nograles said.
Meanwhile, the Palace official assured the public that the government is actively monitoring the developments worldwide.
Over the weekend, National Task Force Against COVID-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. floated the idea that the government may require the wearing of face shields anew amid the threat of the Omicron variant which was first discovered in South Africa.
On November 15, President Duterte approved the recommendations to ease the country’s face shield policy and to keep the said equipment mandatory in areas under the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), Alert Level 5, and granular lockdown.
The following guidelines on the use of face shields are to take effect immediately:
- For areas under ECQ, Alert Level 5, and granular lockdowns, the use of face shields in community settings shall be mandatory
- For areas under Alert Level 4, local government units (LGUs) and private establishments are given the discretion to mandate the use of face shields
- For areas under Alert Levels 3, 2, and 1, the use of face shields shall be voluntary
However, Nograles clarified that the use of face shields in areas under Alert Levels 3, 2, and 1 will be upon the discretion of the establishment or the employers.