By Carlos Manuel Eusoya

PHOTO: Philippine Star

The World Health Organization (WHO) said it is studying the country's mandatory practice of using face shields as a countermeasure against COVID-19.

“At this point in time we have been looking at the Philippine experience. The Philippines is one of few countries that advocates the wearing of face shields in addition to masks,” Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, WHO Country Representative to the Philippines, said in an online forum held on Tuesday, August 31.

He emphasized that “face shields are being used to reduce the likelihood of infection through the eyes, and so that’s not actually (an) additional layer— although it boosts the protection provided by poor mask wearing practices.”

The Department of Health (DOH) later said that the WHO clarified Abeyasinghe’s statement, saying: “face shields may reduce the likelihood of infection through protection of the eyes and provide an additional layer of protection for those who are not wearing their masks properly.”

“It’s interesting that we have also been able to delay the speed at which the Delta variant is spreading and we don’t know whether the face shields are a contributory factor. So, while we are understanding all of these issues, it’s best to look for evidence and make decisions based on that,” Abeyasinghe explained.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the national government will wait for the results of WHO’s study before deciding to stop the implementation of the policy.

“I understand that even the WHO will render an expert opinion on whether or not the use of face shields is justified so antayin po natin ang opinyon ng WHO,” Roque said during a press briefing held on Thursday, September 2.

DOH stated last June that the proper wearing of face mask and face shield “are non-pharmacological interventions that, when consistently done and observed, will significantly help reduce risk of COVID-19 transmission and infection.”

The DOH started requiring citizens to wear face shields on top of face masks in December 2020.

Report sources: Manila Bulletin, Philippine News Agency