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THE President has finally spoken.

To subdue a brewing clash among top government officials who are part of the national task force on the COVID-19 pandemic response, President Rodrigo Duterte issued a statement seen to become a national policy.

In a press briefing, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said that the President requires the use of face shields on top of face masks only in hospitals amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Roque, there should no longer be any question as the President has spoken.

 “I can confirm what Senate President Vicente Sotto and Senator Joel Villanueva said that the President did say that the wearing of face shields should only be in hospitals,” Roque told Palace reporters.

When the President has decided, that is the policy,” he added.

However, Roque said that the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), the government’s policy-making body in the COVID-19 response, may still appeal the President’s decision.

The President announced a new policy but this is without prejudice to the IATF appealing the decision of the President,” he said.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles earlier in the day said the IATF will decide on the matter during a meeting on Thursday afternoon.

Department of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega earlier said face shields need not be worn on top of face masks when outdoors because there is less risk of being infected with COVID-19.

However, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the DOH will make an appeal if Duterte decides to only require the use of face shields in hospitals – which the chief executive did..

Duque reiterated that it is not yet time to drop the use of face shields as the country’s COVID-19 vaccine coverage remains low.

Any layer of protection is better than less protection,” he said.

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