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Philippines U-turns on face shields

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday backtracked on scrapping the mandatory use of face shields outdoors, amid concern over the spread of more contagious variants of the coronavirus.
Hours after presidential spokesman Harry Roque announced that face shields were no longer required outdoors, Duterte decided to keep it mandatory for both indoors and outdoors.
“Acting on the advice of health experts and in view of the Delta variant, President Duterte declared that the wearing of face shields, both indoor and outdoor, is still mandatory,” Roque said. Face shields are required alongside face masks in the Philippines, but confusion arose last week when Duterte said face shields need only be worn inside hospitals. Health officials and the government’s Covid-19 task force said they were still necessary.
“What is clear is this - face shields are no longer required when outdoors,” Roque said earlier, before later delivering a U-turn. Health experts have argued that face shields provide extra protection against more contagious strains of the coronavirus, like the Delta variant, which emerged in India and has been detected in 17 cases in the Philippines.
The government has meanwhile ramped up vaccinations against Covid-19, with more supplies expected to arrive later this month and in July.
More than 2.1 million Filipinos have been fully vaccinated since the government launched the vaccination drive in March.
The Philippines’ total coronavirus caseload rose to 1,364,239, with 5,249 cases reported on Monday, the Department of Health said. The death toll was up by 128 to 23,749, it added.
Despite thousands of cases reported daily, the government has been easing coronavirus restrictions in a bid to jump-start the economy, which has contracted for the fifth straight quarter since last year.