Local medical doctors are concerned that wearing the plastic face shield alone does not provide enough protection against the spread of the new coronavirus.
Current evidence suggests that transmission of the virus occurs primarily between people through direct, indirect or close contact with infected people through infected secretions, or through their respiratory droplets which are expelled when an infected person coughs, sneezes or through speech.
In observing the popularity of the wearing of only face shields in public places and also by school children, while health officials are encouraging snugly fitted masks to cover both the mouth and the nose, this newspaper reached out to some medical practitioners on the subject. The question was posed to them as to whether the shields alone can stop the spread of the disease.
Dr Francis Martin who once served as the Chief Medical Officer showed concern over aerosolusation where physical substances are converted into particles that are light enough to be carried in the air. He said “The face shields alone will not prevent the spread of droplets since they can escape above and below the shield.”
While most people are wearing the two layered cloth masks Dr Martin is suggesting that the face shields can be used in addition. For situations that are high risks such as when a swab is being done to facilitate testing, he suggests the face shields can be worn alone in that short period.
The Grenadian Voice also reached out to General Practitioner Dr Devon Francis who also does not recommend the use of face shields or goggles as a substitute for masks. “Face shields and goggles are primarily used to protect the eyes of the person wearing them. Goggles do not cover the nose and mouth,” Dr Francis said.
He too is concerned that face shields have large gaps below and alongside the face where respiratory droplets can escape from.
It is quite clear that many people have chosen them as an alternative to face masks made of cloth when they venture out of their homes during the pandemic. The popular reason given is that they can breathe easier.
While it is true that plastic face shields bring a number of advantages over masks, such as protecting the eyes – which can be an entry point into the body for some viruses, they can also help to reduce the risk of people touching their face and inoculating themselves with any virus they have picked up on their hands. Face shields are also generally considered to be more comfortable and fog glasses less when the wearer breathes.
However according to reports on-line, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend face shields for normal everyday activities or as a substitute for masks.
Also the Swiss health authorities have also warned against using face visors instead of masks after an investigation into an outbreak of COVID-19 at a hotel revealed that all those who were infected had been wearing plastic face shields, while those who avoided infection were wearing masks.
For preventing glasses from becoming misty while wearing masks, it is recommended that before slipping on a face mask, glasses should be washed with soapy water. Then, have them air dry or gently dry the lenses with a clean microfiber cloth.