MANILA, Nov 29 (Mabuhay) –National Task Force Against COVID-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. on Monday expressed his support for the reimposition of the mandatory face shield policy amid the threat of the Omicron variant.
According to Galvez, face shields will provide additional protection against the variant, which is suggested to cause a higher risk of reinfection based on preliminary evidence.
“So kami po ni (Health) Sec. (Francisco) Duque at saka ng (Sec. Duque and I as well as the) whole DOH and also some of the experts are with the possible reusing of the face shield,” Galvez said.
He stressed the importance of face shields, citing the country’s experience with the highly contagious Delta variant.
“Kasi nakita namin even the WHO, ‘yung nangyari sa atin sa Delta talagang na-control natin ang transmission (we saw, even the WHO, what happened with Delta, we were able to control the transmission),” he said.
“We were able to really avoid ‘yung excessive deaths and also we were able to withstand ‘yung hospitalization. It’s because of the extra protection given by face shield,” he added.
The government lifted the face shield policy on November 15, only requiring its use in areas under alert level 5.
In a media briefing, Health Epidemiology Bureau director Dr. Alethea de Guzman said the agency will continuously monitor the situation and issue a recommendation, if necessary.
“But again, dahil evolving pa ang situation at marami pang unknowns dito sa variant na ito, tuloy-tuloy natin pag-aaralan ang datos at tayo ay magkakaroon ng mga bagong rekomendasyon,” she said.
The World Health Organization said it is not yet clear if Omicron is more transmissible compared to other variants or if it causes more severe disease.
However, the variant has at least 30 mutations, leading to fears that it may make vaccines less effective due to the difference in spike protein.
The Philippines has imposed travel restrictions over Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, Italy, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini, and Mozambique.
Hong Kong, which has also detected the variant, remains on the country’s yellow list amid calls from the DOH and other experts to impose travel restrictions on the Chinese territory. (MNS)