Juxtaposed: Philippines’ face shield policy vs other countries without such

June 2, 2021 - 6:46 PM
People wearing face masks as protection against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) queue outside a government office, in Caloocan City, Metro Manila, Philippines, February 1, 2021. (Reuters/Lisa Marie David)

The Philippines’ protocol to wear face shields was compared to other countries that are doing better in controlling the pandemic without the face shield requirement.

This was the discussion among some social media users recently in light of the previous high temperatures outdoors.

Last Sunday, one Reddit user shared a screenshot of a tweet on  frustrations about wearing face shields outdoors amid the sky-high temperature.

The tweet read: “I wear an N95 or a KF 94 mask all the time even if I’m fully vaccinated but can we please stop wearing face shields in public, Philippines? It’s 40°C outside.”

The Reddit user, meanwhile, said: “Nobody likes wearing face shields. Stop making us wear that piece of plastic in our face.”

In the discussion section, other users also echoed this view, saying that Filipinos only wear them for compliance and others profit from them.

“People only wear it out of sheer compliance and after passing the security who would check them for wearing faceshields, they would just remove it or wear it improperly (nagiging headband na ang face shields),” one user said.

“Well, face shields are products that earn money nowadays. Break that business, you get angry businessmen on your case,” another user wrote.

A week ago, on May 26, another Reddit user shared a screenshot of a tweet by columnist Gideon Lasco who claimed that countries that have controlled the health crisis achieved it without face shields.

“What do all countries that have controlled COVID have in common? They never required face shields,” Lasco said.

“It’s time to end the Philippines’ baseless, inconvenient, and environmentally-harmful face shield mandate, especially in outdoor spaces where there’s zero evidence of its benefit,” he added.

The Reddit user said: “Face shields are mandated not to protect, but to profit.”

In the discussion section, those who agreed with Lasco also added that countries that are faring better in the pandemic also had a faster response last year than the Philippines, citing travel ban announcements.

“Hindi nila kinailangan kasi maayos na covid response. dito satin travel ban lang di pa ginawa agad,” one user said.

Other users, meanwhile, countered the doctor and argued that these countries fared better because of their effective health-oriented strategies, contrary to the Philippine government’s response efforts.

“Lasco is wrong: the countries that managed to control COVID managed to control COVID with measures and policies that are so radically different from our strategy that ‘they did not mandate face shields’ is a coincidence,’” one user said.

“Also, our country especially Metro manila has one of the highest population densities in the whole world, so you are always likely to bump into people and be in places where there would be a lot of respiratory droplets,” another user wrote.

It was last December when the Palace and the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases required Filipinos to wear face shields over their face masks outside their homes at all times.

Following studies that found that COVID-19 can be transmitted through the air, some concerned Filipinos proposed the need for proper ventilation in indoor spaces instead of just the face shield policy.

Daniel McQuillen, vice president of the Infectious Diseases Society of America and an infectious disease physician at Beth Israel Lahey Health in Boston, in June last year said face shields block droplets, which are larger particles that drop to the floor due to gravity, but not aerosols.

“If someone coughs and it catches your eyes, you are going to get the infection,” McQuillen was quoted as saying in a Wall Street Journal report.

In October, the Ministry for Health of France also said plastic visors or face shield do not fit the specifications for obligatory mask wearing.

It issued fine on individuals who are wearing a face shield instead of a mask.

“These objects cannot, in any case, be considered as protective equipment for the person wearing them, or for the people they come into contact with,” the ministry was quoted Agence France-Presse as saying.