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Let’s face it

The government interagency task force that tells Filipinos what to do to keep safe from Covid-19 because their government cannot properly test, contact trace and even procure a vaccine, has added a new rule for us regular folk to follow.

In order to make Filipinos feel like their government is doing something other than sleeping on the job, we have now been ordered to purchase and wear face shields whenever we are in public. That includes the great outdoors.

Nine months into the pandemic: testing remains inadequate, there is no unified contact tracing system, and now it seems that the much vaunted vaccine our dear leader has been talking about in his weekly talk show hasn’t even been reserved or procured. It’s going to be 2021 very soon but it feels like the Philippines is still stuck deep in the nightmare that is 2020.

However, we are now required to use face shields in public, so we should be fine. Other nations have already started vaccinating their population but Filipinos are going to be forced to use another layer of “protection” that has zero scientific basis.

If face shield use as an effective protection from Covid were backed by solid science, other countries would be recommending it. If you come to think of it, Taiwan, Vietnam and New Zealand all managed to control their outbreaks without the use of the face shields that our best and brightest in the IATF have now forced upon the ever resilient Filipino population. What gives?

Can a face shield stop virus droplets? In theory, a piece of clear, non-permeable plastic should be able to stop anything so that is probably why our geniuses at the IATF recommended adding that extra layer of protection.

However, using a mask, which almost all Filipinos do in public, already does 95 percent of that work. A face shield probably adds another 1 percent and while nobody can deny that any amount, no matter how negligible, adds to the total effectiveness protective equipment and protocols, some things are simply not worth the cost and inconvenience. The face shield is a prime example of the law of diminishing returns in action.

Paranoid hypochondriacs can insist on wearing face masks and don full PPEs when going out in public but a government that makes its people purchase and wear equipment for an additional 1 percent layer of protection is total idiocracy.

Proper mask wearing, social distancing, handwashing, and ventilation are the only science-backed measures that most of the world’s scientists would recommend. Face shields, temperature checks, foot baths are just for show, something non-science generals would probably find appealing. These folks subscribe to the school of thought that inconveniencing people will make them think their government is actually doing something.

Instead of trying to look busy and distracting us with face shields and other unnecessary rituals, our government should’ve established a proper mass testing program, a unified contact tracing system, beefed up our health care system, and proactively worked towards the procurement of enough vaccines to achieve herd immunity. Instead, we get mandatory face shielding. ROFL.

The pandemic is just about ready to celebrate its birthday. Countries like UK and US have already started vaccinating their population. Singapore is poised to follow suit.

The Philippines, despite our dear leader’s repeated utterances of faith in vaccination as the only solution to his governments terribly managed pandemic response, has done almost nothing on the vaccine front. We have not made reservations, started trials, or engaged with any of the vaccine manufacturers while other countries have already secured their initial supply contracts. While other countries are doing slam dunks, we are dropping the ball.

Mandatory face shield use is not a recommendation. It is a requirement and in a country where the people responsible for pandemic response are wearing the wrong sort of uniform, we are going to have to comply because we have no choice. After nine months of epic fails, government turns to another police solution for this health crisis.

As we wait another 3-6 months for our government to secure a vaccine supply, we must wear a face shield because they say so. We will wear a face shield because if not, they will apprehend violators and put you in an ultra-high risk situation where Covid-19 infection will be almost guaranteed because physical distancing is impossible.

So even if you think it’s dumb and useless, obey the IATF because they make the rules and we should simply comply instead of questioning the dumbness of the rules or the ineffectiveness of their chosen solutions. As we used to say in ROTC… “Sir yes sir!”

The whole planet knows a face mask will definitely prevent Covid-19 infection. The IATF logic is that adding a face shield should protect us further. It is like using 2 condoms. More effective? Of course! Necessary? Nah! More pleasurable and convenient? Hell no! But nobody will stop you if you insist.

Mandatory use of face shields is akin to government demanding us to use 2 condoms. It’s over the top, silly, inconvenient and a pain. But we will obey because we are resilient and obedient… and because there is no vaccine coming for Filipinos anytime soon (only the expensive Chinese one that nobody else is using).

Buckle up your face shields because it is still going to be a long ride!*

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September 2022

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