'Vectors for virus': Ex-DOH chief backs lifting of face shield policy

Former health secretary and incumbent Iloilo 1st District Representative Janette Garin on Thursday, June 3, supported calls for the government to lift its mandatory face shield policy, raising that this could increase coronavirus transmission.

Former Department of Health secretary and incumbent Iloilo Representative Janette Garin (John Jerome Ganzon/MANILA BULLETIN File Photo)

"Ang face shield, sa totoo lang, marami kasing gumagamit nang paulit-ulit (Many people, in reality, are reusing their face shields). It can become a venue to harbor, it's an agent, it's a vector for the virus. Kasi hindi naman disposable 'yong face shield, eh (Because face shields are not disposable)," Garin, who headed the Department of Health (DOH) during the Aquino administration, said in an online press briefing.

"Personally, sa pananaw ko, hindi na ganoon kailangan ang face shield (in my opinion, we can do away with using face shields)," she said.

In a separate statement sent by her office later, Garin said face shields need not be used every day and should only be worn in places where there is a high transmission rate of coronavirus, such as in hospitals and crowded areas.

While face shields can give people an additional sense of security, she said "what we need are face masks, testing, immediate isolation of positives and vaccination."

"If we don't test and immediately isolate, bawat tao na napapasukan ng COVID-19, nanganganak nang marami 'yon (each person infected COVID-19 breeds more virus and could infect several others)," she told media.

"We cannot protect the unvaccinated," Garin also stressed.

Manila Mayor Francisco "Isko Moreno" Domagoso was among those who are pushing the government to scrap its policy of requiring the population to wear face shields outside of their homes, saying this only adds to the financial burden of Filipinos amid the health and economic crises.

He also mentioned that Philippines was the "only" country in the world to put up such a policy.

Malacañang, however, rejected the appeal, as well as current DOH Sec. Francisco Duque III, who admitted that vaccination coverage in the country "is still low".