COVID-19 Crisis: Face shield policy emphasized by Duterte

The confusion and debate over the importance of face shields during the COVID-19 crisis here in the Philippines continues. Very recently, President Rodrigo Duterte spoke out about face shields and even called their use a small inconvenience as part of preventing disaster.

To put things in perspective, posted below are excerpts from the June 22, 2021 article published by Philippine News Agency (PNA). Some parts in boldface…

The “small inconvenience” of wearing face shields is a “small price to pay” to prevent impending “disaster” caused by new coronavirus strains, President Rodrigo Duterte said on Monday.

Duterte defended his decision to retain the mandatory face shield policy, citing the need to be more cautious over the highly infectious Delta coronavirus variant (B1617) first discovered in India.

The Philippines, he said, could not afford another coronavirus wave as it would take a toll on the country’s economy.

He also cited reports that the new coronavirus strain could be resistant to some Covid-19 vaccines.

“I will apologize to the Filipino people that this thing was being discussed openly and many thought that we were ready to do away with the face [shields]. But with the kind of aggressive infection that poses a very grave danger to…it’s a small inconvenience, actually. I know that it is inconvenient really to be wearing the mask, adjusting it from time to time. But that is only a very small price to pay than rather gamble with doing away with it and courting disaster,” Duterte said in a meeting with members of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), some Cabinet members, and medical experts.

His decision to retain the mandatory face shield policy came following health experts’ recommendation to “triple” precautions against the Delta coronavirus strain.

“As of now, the face [shield] is on…It is to the national interest that we must triple our effort because I said we do not know if it would require a new vaccine which has to be invented first. Second, we cannot afford a second wave because it might be far worse than the first and then we will have a problem with the economy and as I said it would be disaster for the country,” he added.

He also clarified that he never said with finality that he would lift the mandatory wearing of face shields.

Last week, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said Duterte has agreed that the public should only be required to wear a face shield when they go to hospitals.

The IATF-EID, however, appealed to keep the rule on the use of face shields in enclosed public spaces such as commercial establishments, malls, and public transportation.

“When I mention about the face shield, I was only shooting the breeze with the members of the Congress who were there. I never said with finality that we will do away with the face shield,” Duterte said.

As you can see in the above details, there was confusion about the national authorities’ approach with face shields. President Duterte claims that he never declared with authority that the mandatory wearing of face shields will be lifted. And then there is the issue about the Delta coronavirus variant (B1617) which the World Health Organization (WHO) claims is mutating and has spread around the world.

Let me end this piece by asking you readers: Do you believe that face shields are essential for personal protection and for public health in general during this time of pandemic? How much money have you spent on face shields this year? Do you believe President Duterte and his view about face shields?

You may answer in the comments below. If you prefer to answer privately, you may do so by sending me a direct message online.

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