Singer Moira dela Torre trended #1 on Tuesday after a TikTok video of her singing personal hit song, "Tagpuan", went viral. While the OPM star isn't new to the spotlight, what piqued the interest of the internet this time around wasn't her talent, but the giant shield on wheels she used in her attempt for a COVID-safe performance.
Gusto ko lang mag bakasyon itong si @moiradelatorre bigla bigla nalang mag abot ng mic! Akala siguro uurungan sya ni Ate Chona!Comment kayo for PART 2? original sound - Ate Chona
It may be funny (given how it wasn't really so much of a subtle replacement to the typical face shield many abhor) but the real question, as health experts pointed out: was it even safe?
"Matagal nang kalokohan yung mga shows na naka-faceshield yung artista pero walang face mask... Then this abomination...," medical doctor Leonard Javier said in a tweet.
"Plexiglass barriers might shield droplets, but they impede airflow and thus may even increase COVID risk because #COVIDisAirborne," he added.
The fact that COVID-19 is airborne may have only been formally recognized by health authorities last week--more than a year into the pandemic already--but the efficacy of plexiglass as anti-transmission agents has long been disputed by experts.
In October of last year, Shelly Miller, a University of Colorado Boulder professor of environmental engineering, told Vox that barriers made of plexiglass (like dela Torre's shield on wheels) actually offer insufficient protection from the virus.
“These barriers are designed to prevent large spray-born droplets, which are released when someone talks loudly or coughs at close range,” she said.
“But you also have to account for the smaller particles that can go around the plexiglass barrier and stay airborne for longer periods of time, which someone can still inhale," she added.
Although the clear dividers can be useful in situations where there are close interactions among people, Miller it's still necessary for one to be masked and distanced from others.
In dela Torre's case, as many were quick to point out, she wasn't only just singing maskless. She also offered her microphone to an audience member for a sing-along.
Such interactions are a "no-no" according to Javier, the medical doctor.
For safety, avoid the 3Cs--confined or enclosed spaces, crowds, and close-contact settings, he said.