MANDATORY FACE SHIELDS
Aside from face masks, wearing of face shields have been mandatory in public areas by the Philippine government. Citizens were quick to adapt to this policy but some have previously questioned the overall protective effect of face shields.
While some foreign countries have problems implementing face mask use even in the abundance of resources, the Philippines, according to the UK Think tank YouGov in partnership with the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London, had no problems in the application of health policies specifically the wearing of face masks. Around 91% of Filipinos wear face masks whenever they leave their homes according to their survey which arguably trumps the “pasaway” narrative.
However, it cannot be ruled out that there are still certain individuals who try their best to fill the “pasaway” category.
Just shortly after strict implementation of face mask wearing, the government announced face shields on top of face masks to be mandatorily worn in public places.
Initially this was met with criticism, not just from ordinary citizens but from the medical and scientific community as well. (This might have been aggravated by the motorcycle barrier rule that was thankfully discarded).
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), face shields have far lesser to none of the protection against COVID-19 spread that face masks can provide.
These guidelines however, are meant to warn people who are substituting face masks with face shields (which are happening in some foreign countries).
Additionally the CDC stated that face shields offer a certain amount of protection against respiratory droplets especially on the eyes of the user, however scientific evidence have yet to quantify the amount of protection face shields have. But unlike face masks which offers protection for and from the user, face shields seem to have little to no protection in the context of COVID-19 spread from the user, as respiratory droplets from users who wear face shields (without face masks) are propelled upward and downward.
It can be argued that the problems with wearing protective equipment in the country is not necessarily about deducing if it’s working or not, as face masks are already proven to work against contagion spread and people generally know that and they have no clamor in wearing one.
Rather, it is about convenience, availability and ease of use. Some Filipinos don’t necessarily have the resources to provide their own personal protective equipment thus fail to use it – though sometimes the government does offer aid, it’s not always the case.
Perhaps another problem with face shields, and personal protective equipment in general, is handling. No matter how much a person covers himself in PPEs, improper handling will still get that person infected.
And, true to statistic, the increased amount of Face shield wearing would also mean an increased amount of misuse – perhaps unwashed or overly cleaned reusable face shields may cause certain health hazards as some materials break easily.
But overall, at least in the country, since facemasks are still the base of a standard PPE, a face shield on top may provide an additional amount of protection. With the relatively high number of people following health protocols in the country with regard to facemasks, it is also likely that more people would be educated on how to properly use face shields, avoiding misuse and ultimately optimize their personal protection.
OVERALL: Facemasks are still the recommended personal protective equipment and face shields should never be a substitute but rather an add-on. On the question on whether face shields should be mandatory or not, current evidence suggests that it should be optional but following the Swiss Cheese Model, which basically assumes that one layer / method of prevention may provide better outcomes in combatting the eventuality of a disaster, and in this scenario, infection – A face shield (used properly) may very well be an additional Swiss cheese in the layers that are preventing COVID-19 spread.