MANILA, Philippines — House Committee on Transportation Chair Edgar Sarmiento submitted a resolution seeking to make wearing of face-shields in public transport mandatory.
Sarmiento argued that with such measure, the government may increase the allowable capacity of public utility vehicles as face shields could protect commuters from COVID-19 transmission.
Sarmiento also urged the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to oblige commuters to don personal protective equipment (PPE) such as face mask, face shield, gloves and similar protective gear to curb the spread of the virus in public transport.
The lawmaker cited in his resolution a study conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Standards which revealed that wearing a face shield gives 96% protection from exposure to the virus and 97% protection from contamination and infection.
“We will be increasing, supposedly, the capacity of the rails, the capacity of the buses,” Sarmiento noted.
“Pero ang pasahero kung naka-shield may maskara not only 50% we can increase it further. Tapos hindi lang sila nagkakaharap nagtatalikuran din sila, (If passengers wear face shield, we could allow not only 50% but we can increase it further. Also, aside from facing each other, commuters may also seat back-to-back),” he added.
Wearing a face shield is also being proposed to be included in the government’s minimum public health standards which, if approved, will become mandatory in public areas.
“We will execute the stringent enforcement of minimum public health standards,” said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.
“Ito po yung hugas kamay, suot ng mask, social distancing at pagsuot na rin po ng face shields, apat na po ngayon ang ating minimum public health standards, ( these are the washing of hands, wearing of face mask, social distancing, and wearing of face shield. Those four now comprise our minimum public health standards),” he added.
Meanwhile, Dean Vicente Belizario of the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Public Health said there is no assurance that a person will not get infected when using or wearing a face shield.
Even the use of motorcycle backride barriers cannot guarantee full protection from infection.
“Kulang pa po ang ebidensya. Maaaring gumawa ng pag-aaral para ma-establish kung ano ang naitutulong ng barrier o shield pero (There is not enough evidence. Maybe a study can be made to determine the value of a barrier or shield) theoretically, it should add to the layers of protection,” Belizo explained.
He said that it is still best to constantly remind passengers and drivers to properly wear their PPEs and religiously obey all government – imposed health protocols to curb the spread of COVID-19. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)
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