Saturday, November 27, 2021

Are Face Shields Necessary for the General Public?

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The use of face shields has always been an issue in the Philippines since it’s the only country that mandates this kind of policy. The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) issued this resolution which requires all persons to wear face shields on top of facemasks in all public places to prevent the spread of COVID-19 back in December 2020. 

However, President Duterte made a ‘presidential policy’ in June this year to ease the government’s face shield requirement by allowing its use only in hospitals but due to the presence of a more transmissible Delta coronavirus variant, he eventually decided to keep the IATF-b  EID’s original policy on its mandatory use of face shields.

Revisions to the current policy continue to be discussed by IATF-EID following the announcement of President Duterte stating that Filipinos are no longer required to wear face shields unless they are in areas with high-risk activities or in “closed and crowded” places and areas where activities “promote close contact” (3Cs). 

The Philippines being the only country that uses face shields as a preventive measure against COVID-19 gained a lot of criticisms. Wearing a facemask is uncomfortable enough and putting a face shield on top of it is much worse. Filipinos complain about it being bulky to wear and find it difficult to communicate with others. It can also “get steamy and fog up”. Thus, the public started to question its effectiveness in preventing the spread of COVID-19 and why it is mandatory for the general public. 

One of the visible benefits of face shields is that it protects the entire face, including the eyes, which along with the nose and mouth can be a gateway for the coronavirus and other germs to enter the body. The plastic panel that hangs from the top of the forehead and extends below the chin prevents large respiratory droplets that are thought to carry the virus from reaching these areas of potential infection.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) highlights the use of face masks because they serve as a form of “source control,” which means it helps to prevent people who have COVID-19 from transmitting the virus to others by blocking respiratory particles from traveling into the air and on to other people. Although face shields also have the ability to block respiratory droplets produced by the wearer from spreading to others,  it’s unclear how well, according to the CDC. 

Currently, CDC does not recommend face shields for the general public, especially if it is used as a substitute for face masks. The agency, however, does advise health care workers to wear them along with face masks, especially in areas that are experiencing moderate to the substantial spread of COVID-19. Concerned individuals, and notably those at high risk for severe illness from COVID-19, are also encouraged to do the same.

It’s only right that the use of face shields in the country should be mandated for health care workers and in areas with high-risk activities. 

 

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of POLITICO.PH

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Clarisse Rafols is a student at the University of the East, taking up Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. She is a former officer of UE Journalism Society and is currently an intern for Politico aiming to become a learned journalist to serve the general public with factual information.

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