The government needs to listen to and believe in the experts’ findings that the use of face shields is effective in preventing the further transmission of COVID-19, Malacañang said Thursday.
“We have to believe in what science is saying,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque said in an online press conference.
Roque issued the statement, after the Senate sought an inquiry into the effectiveness of face shields in protecting people against COVID-19.
He maintained that Duterte’s latest directive to keep the wearing of face masks mandatory is based on science.
“That’s what the science and experts have said. It is difficult to ignore the findings of the experts in the fields of medicine and epidemiology),” he said in Filipino.
Senate Resolution 757, authored by Senate President Vicente Sotto III, directs the Senate Committee of the Whole to investigate, in aid of legislation, the efficacy of wearing face shields in public spaces.
The resolution was filed following dismay over the government’s flip-flopping on the policy on the use of face shields.
Duterte initially decided to relax the government’s face shield requirement by mandating its use only in hospitals.
Roque, however, announced on Monday that Duterte has decided to keep the original policy on the mandatory use of face shields in public places in view of more transmissible Delta coronavirus variant.
While he acknowledged the inconvenience of wearing face shields, Roque insisted that there is a scientific basis to mandate its use.
Roque also cited the findings of The Lancet that the use of face masks helps control the COVID-19 transmission.
The Lancet’s study, Roque said, found that wearing a face mask can decrease the risk of catching COVID-19 by 78 percent.
The risk can also decrease by 85 percent, if face shield is worn in addition to face shield, Roque added.
Roque also cited a local study that showed that a person is protected against COVID-19 by 97 percent, if they use face shield and face mask and observe social distancing.
The OCTA Research Group on Thursday supported the President’s decision to continue requiring the wearing of face shields indoors and outdoors. (See full story online at manilastandard.net)
The Department of Health (DOH) said it was open to making changes to its COVID-19 response, but only if it is supported by science.
Dr. Beverly Ho, director of the DOH Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and Control bureaus, noted that health authorities respect the opinions of the public and policymakers on its COVID-19 response.
“What is clear to us, still from the very beginning, our COVID-19 response is guided by science,” Ho said at a briefing.
Ho said that the DOH assesses “the whole totality of evidence, not really piecemeal type [where] we will look for one article and that would represent the so-called evidence.” (See full story online at manilastandard.net)
“It also means that at any point in time, the decisions or the recommendations can change. The DOH remains open to changes,” she said.
Meanwhile, Senator Nancy Binay said leaders should first set an example on the use of face shield so there won’t be a “disconnect” in the messaging.
"Practice what we preach,” Binay said to national leaders mandating the use of face shields.
While she agrees face shield is an additional protection against COVID-19, Binay said she does not fully agree with making their wearing mandatory.
She observed that despite the use of face shields, the Philippines was still reported to have the most number of total and active COVID-19 cases among the countries in the Western Pacific region.
Binay said there was a “disconnect” when people are required to wear face shields, but the ones setting the guidelines do not.