Palace says it knows nothing about alleged kickbacks from sale of face shields

Palace says it knows nothing about alleged kickbacks from sale of face shields

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Thursday insisted that the mandatory wearing of face shields is based on science in the wake of suspicions that some officials may be profiting from the policy.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said there are studies published in reputable journals indicating that face shields provide an additional layer of protection against COVID-19

"I don't know anything about the supposed racket. But you know, I understand that it is really difficult to wear face shields. I wear eye glasses and if I wear a face shield, there would surely be fog. It's hard especially for those wearing eye glasses and it entails an extra cost," Roque said at a press briefing.

"But we have to believe what the science says," he added.

Roque said a study by leading medical journal Lancet found that the wearing of face shields can lower the risk of COVID-19 infections.

The study, which was published last month, indicated that eye protection resulted in a 78% reduction in infection while masks and respirators reduced the risk of infection by 85%. A physical distance of one meter in both health-care and community settings, meanwhile, reduced the risk of infection by 82%, it added.

Roque said there are also studies suggesting that the use of face shields and face masks and physical distancing can reduce the risk of infection by as high as 97%.

"That's what the science says, that's what the experts are saying. It's hard to dismiss the words of leading experts in the field of medicine and epidemiology," the Palace spokesman added.

President Rodrigo Duterte has required the wearing of both face masks and face shields in open and enclosed spaces, saying it can provide protection against the more infectious Delta variant of COVID-19. The president added that stricter measures could prevent another surge in infections that would be "disastrous" to the economy.

Last Wednesday, some senators expressed suspicion that some officials may be making money from the sale of face shields, citing allegations about the allegedly overpriced equipment and supplies for pandemic response and the supposed irregularities in the distribution of aid.

Officials have denied that the government's pandemic response is riddled with corruption and have given assurance that all transactions related to COVID-19 are transparent and aboveboard.

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