President Rodrigo Duterte has scrapped the mandatory use of face shields in areas under Alert Level 3 and lower, including Metro Manila, except in hospital and quarantine settings.
“Remove the face shield,” Duterte said in his talk to the people aired Monday evening. “You dispense with the shield, but not the mask.”
In a memorandum issued by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea yesterday, the use of face shields will remain mandatory for areas under Alert Level 5 and granular lockdown.
For areas under Alert Level 4, local government units and private establishments are given discretion to mandate the use of face shields.
For areas under Alert Levels 1, 2 and 3, the use of face shields shall be voluntary.
Metro Manila is under Alert Level 2 until Nov. 30.
“The protocols are without prejudice to the continuing mandatory use of face shields in medical and quarantine facility settings, and the required use of face shields by healthcare workers in healthcare settings,” Medialdea said.
Several cities, including Manila, Davao City, and Iloilo City had lifted the face shield requirement, without waiting for the national government to make an announcement.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque, who resigned yesterday to seek a senatorial post in next year’s elections, contradicted Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año, who was quoted as saying that mayors need not wait for the decision of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF) before lifting the face shield requirement.
“You cannot have everybody go their own way during a pandemic,” Roque said in Filipino.
The Philippines logged 1,547 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, bringing the total number of cases to 2,818,511.
This number of new COVID-19 cases is the lowest since Feb. 24, which logged 1,557 new virus cases.
There were 128 new fatalities, bringing the COVID-19 death toll to 45,709.
The DOH also reported 2,601 new recoveries, bringing the total recoveries to 2,745,777.
There were 27,025 active cases, the lowest since Jan. 15, 2021, which reported a 27,033 active case count.
Of the active cases, 61 percent were mild, 5.9 percent were asymptomatic, 4.6 percent were critical, 10.8 percent were severe, and 17.59 percent were moderate.
The COVID-19 positivity rate was at 4.1 percent, based on samples of 39,147 people on Nov. 13. This the lowest positivity rate since Jan. 24, 2021, which posted a 4.3 percent positivity rate.
Nationwide, 35 percent of ICU beds, 28 percent of isolation beds, 21 percent of ward beds, and 22 percent of ventilators, were in use.
In Metro Manila, 30 percent of ICU beds, 26 percent of isolation beds, 24 percent of ward beds, and 23 percent of ventilators, were in use.
Also on Monday, the DOH said hospitals and local government units (LGUs) are already authorized to procure COVID-19 investigational drugs which have been granted emergency use authorization (EUA) in the country.
At present, only the antibody treatment Ronapreve has received an EUA from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The DOH also said it was “not impossible” that Metro Manila would slide to Alert Level 1 by December.
For an area to be deescalated to Alert Level 1, it must sustain a low-risk classification for two incubation periods and have sufficient vaccine coverage, Vergeire said.
Both the Philippines and NCR were classified as low risk on Nov. 2.
“This means that if we classified an area as low risk on Nov. 1, we need to observe if it can sustain the low-risk classification for two incubation periods until the end of November,” she said in Filipino.
Meanwhile, an area must have vaccinated 70 percent of its senior citizens and persons with comorbidities as well as 50 percent of its target population.
Vergeire said NCR has vaccinated more than 70 percent of its seniors and over 50 percent of its target population.
But, it has yet to meet the 70 percent vaccination requirement for persons with comorbidities.
At least 30.4 million Filipinos are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 so far, still way behind the target of vaccinating 80 percent of the country’s 109 million population by May 9, 2022.
The government’s COVID-19 vaccination started last March 1, but the vaccination on minors aged 12 to 17 years old only started on Nov. 15.