DILG tells PNP, LGUs: Strictly enforce wearing of face shield

Robie de Guzman   •   March 23, 2021   •   385

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Tuesday ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the local government units (LGU) to intensify the implementation of the wearing of face shield requirement in the face of rising COVID-19 cases in the country.

Citing data from the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19, DILG spokesperson and Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said the use of face masks is at 91% while the use of face shields is only at 32%.

“According to the medical experts, the combined population effectiveness of both the face masks and face shields is only at 26% instead of 80% if the use was more prevalent,” Malaya said in a statement.

“Therefore, we have to increase the use of face shields to get the maximum protection at this time of the surge,” he added.

Malaya said force multipliers in the barangays will be mobilized to enforce the wearing of face shields and other health protocols.

“Another challenge is to promote the use of face masks at home especially those living with senior citizens and the vulnerable,” he said.

“When we are at home, our guard goes down so we discourage accepting visitors from outside the immediate family or household,” he added.

He said that from August 20 to March 20, 2021, the PNP has reported 1,503,273 violations of minimum health protocols nationwide.

Of this number, 671,104 or 44.6% are violations of not wearing face masks and face shields while 430,773 or 28.7% were wearing face masks but had no face shields.

“The data from the PNP validates the survey conducted by our medical experts. We really are not getting the full benefits of the utilization of face masks and face shields to prevent the spread of COVID-19 because we have let our guard down,” Malaya said.

Expert still recommends use of face shield vs COVID-19

Robie de Guzman   •   June 18, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — An infectious disease specialist and government adviser still recommends the use of face shields even in open-air settings due to the continuous threat of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and its highly contagious variants.

Dr. Edsel Salvana of the Department of Health (DOH) Technical Advisory Group said on Friday that he would still insist on the use of a face shield as it offers a layer of protection against COVID-19 variants, particularly the Delta and Alpha variants.

Citing several studies, Salvana said the Delta variant, which first emerged in India, is up to four times more transmissible than the original coronavirus and the Alpha variant.

“Sa pag-aaral, ang Delta variant is 60 percent more transmissible than Alpha, ano ba yung Alpha? Ang Alpha yun yung UK variant, which is already 60 percent more transmissible than the original virus. So 60 percent plus 60 percent pa so halos four times po ang pwedeng maging increased transmissibility nito,” he said during the Laging Handa public briefing.

He added that preliminary data also show that the Delta variant is about 40 percent more contagious even in outdoor settings.

“So para sa akin, kahit pa sabihin nila na hindi na required ang face shield lalo na with the threat of this Delta variant, gagamit pa rin talaga ako ng face shield, I will recommend it because it is an extra layer of protection,” he said.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Thursday said the existing policy on the use of face shields against COVID-19 will remain in effect pending the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte on the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force to continue the use of face shields in enclosed or indoor spaces.

These spaces include hospitals, schools, workplaces, commercial establishments such as but not limited to food establishments, malls and public markets, public transport and terminals, and places of worship.

The task force met on Thursday afternoon to discuss the policy on the use of face shields after some senators shared their conversation with Duterte in Malacañang about the limited use of face shields.

Salvana said that should the president decide to remove or limit the use of face shields, he would still wear one as protection against coronavirus variants.

“Hindi ko pipilitin kung ayaw nyong gumamit ng face shield o kung tanggailn yung mandate but I still strongly recommend it lalo na with the threat of the variants. I, myself, when I’m interacting with other people, I will use this face shield po,” he said.

Expert stresses importance of testing on 7th day, 14-day quarantine vs COVID-19

Robie de Guzman   •   June 18, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – An infectious disease expert and government adviser has underscored the importance of strictly implementing the mandated testing and quarantine protocols to curb the spread of COVID-19 and its highly transmissible variants in the country.

Dr. Edsel Salvana of the Department of Health (DOH) Technical Advisory Group on Friday said existing protocol requiring returning travelers to the Philippines to undergo a 14-day quarantine period will help stop the entry of more contagious variants, particularly the Delta variant first detected in India.

He said the 14-day quarantine protocol should be coupled with the administration of the RT-PCR test on the seventh day of the quarantine to show an accurate result.

Of the 14 days, travelers are required to spend 10 days in a government facility while the remaining 4 days will be completed at home.

“Ito po ang pamamaraan na kahit may makalusot, kahit mag-false negative pa man yung test, hindi na nakakahawa by the time na matapos ang 14 days na to, mababa na po yung chance na meron pang natitirang virus kahit ma-miss ng tests natin,” Salvana said during the Laging Handa public briefing.

“According to the experts po ng Technical Advisory Group, tiningnan po namin yung datos sa Centers for Disease Control, ang pinaka-safe po talaga na minimum is 10 days facility-based quarantine, followed by 4 days quarantine at home. Hindi na po pwedeng iksian yun, unless ito ngayong pinag-uusapan if vaccinated na po yung traveler,” he added.

Salvana also stressed that the testing should be done on the seventh day because testing a traveler who is newly infected with COVID-19 upon his or her arrival in the Philippines will not show a COVID-19 positive result.

“Sa pag-aaral ng Centers for Disease Control, nakikita po nila na kapag ang isang tao ay nahawaan ng COVID on the day of travel tapos dumating po siya, kung tinest mo yun on arrival, ang tiyansa na mag-positive yung test na yun ay zero percent po kasi kakahawa lang niya,” he said.

“Tapos mananatili po siyang nakakahawa up to 10 days,” he added.

He, however, noted that the viral load on the said individual goes down to 2.4 percent by the 10th day, which lowers the chance of the person transmitting the virus to others.

“Para mawala lalo yung 2% na yun, ina-advise pa rin po natin yung 4 days na home quarantine para tuluyang ligtas po talaga,” he said.

He also said that while the country’s existing travel restrictions for travelers from India and other nations help in controlling the spread of the COVID-10 Delta variant, the stringent implementation of minimum public health standards, including quarantine protocols, is still necessary to break the chain of transmission.

The Philippines has so far recorded 13 cases of Delta variant, one of which has died.

PH’s shorter quarantine period for fully vaccinated travelers to take effect on June 22

Robie de Guzman   •   June 18, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government has moved the implementation date of the shorter quarantine period for inbound travelers who completed their COVID-19 vaccine doses in the country.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the Inter-Agency Task Force for COVID-19 response decided in a meeting on Thursday to push back the start of the shortened quarantine period for inbound travelers to June 22, instead of June 16 as previously announced.

He said this is in consideration of the full rollout of the process of validation of vaccination certificates.

Under the new policy, inbound travelers who were fully immunized against COVID-19 in the country are required to undergo a 7-day quarantine period upon entering the Philippines.

RT-PCR test shall only be done when the individual manifests COVID-19 symptoms within the 7-day quarantine.

After completing the 7-day facility-based quarantine, the Bureau of Quarantine shall issue a Quarantine Certificate indicating the individual’s vaccination status.

Roque also said that the IATF has reiterated the strict enforcement of current testing and quarantine protocols duly approved and issued by the task force for inbound international travelers in all ports of the country “regardless of any specific protocols that may be issued the local government units on the contrary.”

“Member-agencies of the National Task Force Against COVID-19, specifically the Department of the Interior and Local Government, the Department of Health and the Bureau of Quarantine, the Department of Tourism, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Labor and Employment and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, the Philippine National Police, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, among others, with their respective regional offices, attached agencies, and government-owned and controlled corporations, have been instructed to ensure strict adherence to the abovementioned directive,” he added.

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