MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has retained the policy on the mandatory use of face shields in both enclosed and open-air settings after the Philippines detected more cases of the more contagious COVID-19 variants, particularly the Delta variant first reported in India.
During his weekly “Talk to the People” address late Monday, Duterte said he was only “shooting the breeze” with lawmakers when he mentioned that face shields should only be worn in hospitals.
He also clarified that he “never said with finality” that the government would do away with the mandatory use of face shields.
“When I mentioned about the face shield, I was only shooting the breeze with the members of the Congress who were there,” Duterte said. “I never said with finality that we will do away with the face shield.”
Duterte was referring to the conversation he had with some senators in Malacañang last Wednesday, which was shared with the public by Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Senator Joel Villanueva.
“Now, I will agree with you, considering that this [Delta] variant is very aggressive and it can proliferate in so much shorter period of time, we may experience a second wave much more serious than the first,” he said.
“Yung nangyari sa atin yung first wave, it has depleted really the resources of the government. Another one would be disastrous for this country. That is why the stricter you are, the better,” he went on.
Duterte also apologized and admitted that openly discussing the policy might have not been a good idea.
“I will apologize to the Filipino people kay this thing was discussed openly and many thought that we were ready to do away with the face mask, but with the kind of aggressive infection that poses a very gave danger to… I know that it is inconvenient really to be wearing the mask, adjusting it from time to time. But that is just a small price to pay than rather gamble with doing away with it and courting disaster,” he said.
“Kasi ang transmission, it’s accepted by all that it can be transmitted to the eyes and to the nose. So I’m left with no recourse but really to adopt your recommendation,” he said, addressing the members of the task force and the health advisers also present during the public briefing.
Duterte last week told some senators that the use of face shield should only be limited to hospitals, but the COVID-19 task force urged him to continue requiring its use in enclosed spaces and in public places.
The Department of Health earlier reported that the country now has recorded a total of 17 cases of Delta COVID-19 variant, which is said to be more transmissible than the original coronavirus strain.
The said variant, which triggered a catastrophic wave of cases in India, is fast becoming the globally dominant variant of the viral disease according to the World Health Organization.