Face shields have become an essential for life in the Philippines that some brands are faked, with a recent raid yielding an estimated P70 million worth of counterfeit face coverings, authorities said.
There was disbelief on social media. How can a face shield be faked? For the National Bureau of Investigation, yes if it the product is passed off as a certain brand. For health experts, what matters is that it does the job -- to cover the eyes, nose and mouth and prevent the coronavirus from entering the body.
You can look at it through two completely different lenses -- law enforcement and public health.
The million-peso raid last week was done on the complaint of face shield maker Heng De against an unauthorized seller of their product. "The complainant is the exclusive distributor. 'Yung nahulihan ng face shields is not an authorized distributor, that makes it fake," Cesar Bacani, the Metro Manila NBI director, told reportr.
Authorities said the counterfeit face shields "may not be declared safe for use by the Food and Drug Administration" because they were not inspected. In August 2020, the FDA said it does not regulate face shields and its importation or distribution requires no certification from the regulator.
Fake face shields?
On social media, Filipinos poked fun at news that face shields, too, are being faked.
Among the comments were:
" All face shields are fake."
"How can you make 'fake' face shields?"
"I can't believe na even face shields have fake ones."
"fake or not (as if there’s such thing as fake face shields), it doesn’t serve its purpose lmao"
"Fake? paano nagiging fake? may ineexcrete bang chemical compound ang face shields that im not aware of that makes it effective? lol"
Former Comelec commissioner Goyo Larrazabal chimed in, asking "Pano maging fake yung plastic??? Fake ang plastic?"
What do health experts say?
Care should be taken when chosing face shields to ensure maximum protection, said infectious disease expert Nina Gloriani.
Face shields serve as cover for the eyes. The virus spreads through droplets from the nose and mouth so if someone sneezes near you, and your eyes are uncovered, the pathogen could enter through the eyes.
Face shields should be worn with face masks, Gloriani told reportr. Face masks provide up to 95% coverage and could go up to 99% with face shields, said the former dean of the UP College of Public Health. This is because there are now two barriers covering the face.
"Talagang ang gusto mong takpan ay ang bibig, ilong at mata (You really want to cover the mouth, nose and eyes)," she said.
Face shields should cover up to the chin. The coverage should extend to the entire face, Gloriani said. Face shields that extend to the nose area don't provide additional protection to the mouth area. This is important as some face masks may not be thick enough or expose "pores" when they stretch.
Face shields should fit tight on the forehead. "Dapat dikit sa noo (It should stick to the forehead)," said Gloriani. This follows the principle of sealing off the eye area.
Face shields should not be touched on the outside. The outer part of the face shield should be considered as a catcher for the virus so don't touch it, Gloriani said.
Face shields should be cleaned. They should be washed with soap and water, the same ones you use on your hands will do, she said. Alcohol and bleach will clean the shield but will also corrode it. People who wear eyeglasses know this.