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MANILA (PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER / ASIA NEWS NETWORK) – Instead of face shields and plexiglass barriers, the Philippines should rely more on protective masks and proper ventilation, and even go outside, said an American expert in aerosols.

Professor Jose-Luis Jimenez of the University of Colorado-Boulder said the government should purchase more N95 masks for the country’s healthcare and other essential workers as well as people with weakened immune systems.

Medical workers should also wear lab glasses to keep the virus-filled air from getting near the eyes, rather than plastic face shields, which Professor Jimenez described as “a waste of money, time and money. attention which essentially creates plastic pollution ”.

He said in an email to the Inquirer: “Now that we know that the virus is airborne and can infect through the eyes, it is actually not enough because the air , like smoke from spray cans, may flow under the Shields face. “

Professor Jimenez is a professor in the University’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry (Division of Analytical, Environmental and Atmospheric Chemistry) and a member of the Cooperative Research Institute in Environmental Sciences.

The Philippine government has made face shields voluntary, but may consider mandatory use amid the upsurge in coronavirus cases attributed to the spread of the Omicron variant.

“So in summary, face shields are not helpful at all,” said Professor Jimenez, as he called for the distribution of more N95 masks to people who cannot afford them.

He said these masks can be worn for around 40 hours, which would not require constant change.

“The government could also consider setting up national manufacturing capacity for N95 masks, so that supply is available for Covid later.[-19] shakes up the next pandemic, ”said Professor Jimenez, whose areas of expertise include aerosols, atmospheric chemistry, aeronautical studies, instrument development, mathematical modeling and disease transmission.

The Hispanic-American chemist caught the attention of Filipino netizens after including the Philippines in a Twitter post about what he described as the “global hall of shame” – countries he says have bad practices in managing the Covid-19 pandemic.

Professor Jimenez, for example, underlined the use of barriers for motorcycles that the government approved but subsequently abandoned, as well as the installation of plexiglass barriers in classrooms and offices which he said “should be removed because they increase transmission “.

He said: “I don’t think these shields really do anything and… frankly, they’re pretty ridiculous.”

Lately, he noted that hospital ventilation in the country is “not known to be good enough”.

He drew criticism from a government medical adviser, former Under-Secretary of Health Teodoro Herbosa, who said on Sunday January 9 that Professor Jimenez had “no expertise in the epidemiology and pathogenesis of diseases”.

But Professor Jimenez has maintained his recommendations to avoid or reduce the circulation of the coronavirus.

He said taxi drivers should consider opening their windows to prevent infection between themselves and their passengers.

He also suggested that encouraging people to get outside would help prevent transmission indoors, especially in confined spaces.