MANILA, Philippines – The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) is set to meet on Thursday afternoon to discuss the government’s response to COVID-19 pandemic.
In a message, IATF co-chairperson and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said among the topics that will be tackled in the meeting is the use of face shields.
“May IATF kami mamaya. Pag-uusapan namin,” he said.
The policy on face shield wearing made headlines anew after Senate President Vicente Sotto III and other lawmakers shared with the public their conversation with President Rodrigo Duterte in Malacañang on Wednesday about the limited use of face shield.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque later confirmed the lawmakers’ statements that the president did say that face shields should only be worn in hospitals.
Roque said the president’s decision becomes a policy but there is a possibility that the IATF will appeal if the face shield rule will be loosened.
Nograles assured they will immediately announce if there are any changes in health protocols.
“If there is any announcement sa bagong protocol, ilalabas namin,” he said.
Health Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega earlier said that shields may be removed when outdoors.
Under existing protocols, face shields are required to be worn in the following areas:
- Enclosed public spaces
- Commercial establishments
- Public transport and terminals
- Places of worship
Face shields should also be worn in other areas where one-meter physical distancing is not possible and there is a gathering of more than 10 people at the same venue at the same time.
OCTA Research fellow and Biological Sciences Professor Nicanor Austriaco also said that face shields offer a certain degree of protection against COVID-19 especially in areas with high infection rate.
“Especially now in those areas undergoing surge, I recommend in high-risk areas whether there is surge, the 9% may be important. But here in Metro Manila, for example, when you are outside and there is no-one around you, I think it is reasonable to say that lowering the risk by 9% maybe something we’re able to tolerate in order to mitigate some of the burden that we have for the Filipino people,” he said.
The Department of Health earlier rejected proposals to drop the use of face shields, as the country’s COVID-19 vaccination coverage remains low.