The Philippine government is now requiring everyone to don a face shield—on top of a facemask— whenever they are out in public.
“You have to wear both a face shield and a face mask. And it has to be a full face shield,” Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said in his daily virtual press briefing.
Prior to this announcement, face shields were required only when entering malls and groceries.
The new mandate was announced as the country prepares for a possible surge of COVID-19 infections after the holiday season. OCTA Research Team, which tracks the pandemic in the country, said a few days ago that the virus’ reproduction number has increased to 1.06, higher than the 0.95 recorded in the past week.
The reproductive number measures the number of people a patient can possibly infect. A densely populated area, such as Metro Manila, will have a higher R-number than a place with fewer people. Experts have said that an area should ideally have an R-number that is below 1 because anything higher than that will lead to a significant increase in COVID-19 patients.
Earlier this month, the Department of Health has urged the public to stay at home for the holidays. It added that visiting family and friends to celebrate could possibly lead to transmission of the coronavirus.
“Celebrating the holidays during this pandemic is no exception to maintaining our caution. In fact, with the holidays upon us, we have more reason to be careful and cautious as the usual practices during these times pose a much greater risk of contracting COVID-19. We all need to find safer ways to celebrate this season without compromising our health and the health of our loved ones,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque said.
The Philippine government is now in the final stage of negotiations of acquiring 25 million doses of the anti-coronavirus vaccine Sinovac, which will be delivered in March. Meanwhile, Filipino private companies have purchased 2.6 million shots of the vaccine produced by AstraZeneca, which will be delivered in May or June.