The entire planet is battling a new strain of the virus that causes COVID-19, one that spreads more easily. In the Philippines, authorities have mandated wearing face shields on top of face masks in all public places to cap new infections.
Still, people out and about during the holiday rush wear their face shields wrong. Some wear it like visors, keeping their nose and mouth uncovered. Worse, some wear face masks with their nostrils exposed.
Yes, face masks and face shields are uncomfortable and make breathing hard but infectious disease experts said their purpose is to prevent the wearer from catching or transmitting SARS-CoV-2 or any virus for that matter that is spread through respiratory droplets. As their names imply, face masks and face shields must cover the face.
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Why the face masks and face shield combo?
A face mask that covers the nose and mouth, coupled with a face shield that covers from the entire face from the forehead up to the chin gives the wearer 99% protection from the virus, said Dr. Nina Gloriani, former dean of the UP College of Public Health and head of the Philippines' vaccine search committee.
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.
"Talagang ang gusto mong takpan ay ang bibig, ilong at mata (You really want to cover the mouth, nose and eyes)," she said.
How should face shields be worn?
Face shields should cover the entire face, Gloriani said. Face shields that extend only up to the nose area leave the mouth open for the virus. This is important as some face masks may not be thick enough or expose "pores" when they stretch.
"Dapat dikit sa noo (It should stick to the forehead)," said Gloriani. This follows the principle of sealing off the eye area.
Don't touch the outer part of the face shield. Consider this surface as a catcher for the virus so don't touch it, Gloriani said.
Face shields should be cleaned 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.