Too far? Experts say face shields and masks are the way forward

Aug 06, 2021
Experts say face shields could stop the virus spreading from other peoples eyes. Source: Getty

As New South Wales grapples with its worst day yet, recording 291 locally acquired Covid-19 cases, experts are calling for residents in hot spots to consider wearing both a mask and a face shield, saying it’s a “winning combo”

The ultra-contagious Delta variant is currently wreaking havoc with the state recording 3,832 cases since the outbreak began in mid-June. The state is now coming to the end of its sixth week in lockdown, however, Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced 50 cases were active in the community during their infectious period.

With seemingly no end in sight for the state, health experts have said people should consider protecting themselves more when outside, with Australian National University (ANU) epidemiologist Darren Gray telling The Australian, that the state government should consider mandating masks and face shields to prevent the virus from infecting people via their eyes.

“If someone has the virus in their throat, a face shield prevents it coming out and acts as another barrier beyond the mask that could help prevent droplets from entering the eyes. It also helps prevent people touching their face as much,” he said.

“Face shields are being used in countries with low vaccination rates such as The Philippines to reduce the spread of Delta.”

Peter Collignon, ANU infectious diseases expert, said it was an added protection, and revealed studies in China showed that those wearing glasses and masks had much lower incidents of contracting the virus.

“It’s another way of protecting one’s airways. They’re not expensive and readily available so for people in areas of high transmission I would suggest a face shield,” he said. “Basically I think eye protection is an added benefit and way of decreasing your chance of getting infected.

“With 260-odd cases today (Thursday) in Sydney I just don’t think the messaging is there. I’ve seen research suggesting face shields provide an additional 20 per cent protection as the eyes aren’t exposed to spray droplets.”

While experts may be hailing it as a winning combination, it seems Australians aren’t so certain, with the idea copping backlash on social media.

“So masks alone don’t work?” one person wrote, while another simply wrote: “Oh my word… insane.”

Another highlighted that we should be more protected outside, asking “How many outdoor transmissions have we recorded so far?”

While others, just seemed frustrated.

“Just walk around in a giant bubble for the rest of our lives. Problem solved!” one said.

“Come on?! This, is not the ‘Bubonic Plague’?” another wrote.

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