News Release

Expert group asked to decide on face shield use amid Omicron variant threat

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte presides over a meeting with the National Task Force against Coronavirus Disease-2019 (NTF COVID-19) and medical experts on the new COVID-19 variant at the Malacañang Palace on November 29, 2021. KING RODRIGUEZ/ PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

The task force advising the government on the coronavirus pandemic should make a recommendation on how to respond to the COVID-19 Omicron variant particularly on face shield use, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte said on Monday after meeting with a group of medical experts.
“Ako, I would suggest to the Task Force to make a statement whether or not really to — ‘pag magdating itong Omicron na ‘to since we have a dearth of data dito sa ano,” President Duterte said during his Talk to the People on COVID-19.

“In the meantime, if — prudence would just dictate that maybe we’ll be strict again at kayo ang Task Force, you have to sort it out whether we have to reimpose the shield kasi nakadagdag talaga eh.”

Meanwhile, regarding the use of face shield that was nixed by the government, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said the government will reimpose its mandatory use once the Omicron variant enters the country.

“Para pong ano siya eh, sa layman’s term, ‘yung face shield po parang payong. ‘Pag malakas ang ulan nagpapayong po tayo; pero ‘pag wala ng ulan, puwedeng itabi lang muna ‘yung payong,” Año said.

“Pero ‘pag uulan o kaya nakita natin na maulap, magdadala po ng payong. So nandoon pa rin po siya sa ating policy. But, of course, sir, it will change kung may makapasok na Omicron.”

The government has not totally discarded the use of face shield and it was only integrated on the Alert Level System, according to the interior chief.

In jurisdictions under Alert Level 1, 2, 3, the use of face shield is voluntary, while those under Alert Level 4, local government units (LGUs) have the discretion for its mandatory use. Under Alert Level 5, face shield use is mandatory.

Año also told the President that the government has already instituted border controls, and suggested to intensify monitoring of the country’s porous southern border.

“Iyon ang dapat bantayan po kasi kung mayroong mga pumasok na mga Filipino Muslims from Sabah, from Malaysia or Indonesia at hindi po dumaan sa port or seaport, airport, eh ‘yun po ‘yung talagang kailangang mabantayan,” he said.

The Philippine National Police (PNP), the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) were given directives to strengthen border patrols and monitoring in the area, he added.

President Duterte convened the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 and several medical experts in Malacañang to discuss the latest updates on COVID-19 Omicron variant, as well as government efforts aimed at containing the new coronavirus variant once it enters the country.

The President assured the public that the government is ramping up preparations for its possible entry and vowed to implement all measures to safeguard the safety of the people. PND