No 10 has advised the public to wear face coverings correctly, covering up both the nose and the mouth to ensure they’re effective.
Face coverings have become a common sight in the United Kindom as people have sought to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, but there’s debate on how effective they are.
Face coverings don’t protect the wearer, but it may protect others if people are contaminated but have not yet manifested the symptoms of the coronavirus. However, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said that masks on their own will not protect from COVID 19.
But the government have been pretty clear about the advantages of people wearing face coverings. Stating that face coverings can better protect others and decrease the spread of the virus if people are contaminated but not presenting symptoms.
People have been urged to wear face coverings in confined places where they can’t keep a physical distance from people they would not ordinarily meet, such as in stores, but No 10 has not made it compulsory in England, except on public transport.
Highlighting the right way to wear a mask, the Prime Minister’s official spokesperson said that COVID 19 is a respiratory disease, and if someone has the virus, droplets can leave the nose and mouth and contaminate others when someone breathes, speaks, sneezes, laughs or coughs.
Therefore, a face-covering should cover both the nose and mouth to decrease the spread of coronavirus droplets, helping to protect others.
The President of the Royal Society, Professor Venki Ramakrishnan said everyone should wear a face-covering in public to decrease the chance of a second wave of COVID 19 infections.
He said that people should wear a mask when they leave home, especially in confined indoor areas, but admitted that the public remains dubious about the benefits, but he said that not wearing them outside the home should be viewed as anti-social as drink driving, or failing to wear a seat belt.
It comes as two new reports on face coverings were published by the scientific body, including one which found the United Kingdom was more reluctant to take up wearing them compared with other countries.
The virus hasn’t been eliminated, so if we lift lockdown and people increasingly mix with each other, then we need to use every means we have to decrease the chance of a second wave of infection.
There are no silver bullets, but beside hand washing and physical distancing, we also need everyone to start wearing face coverings, especially indoors in confined public places where physical distancing is often not possible.
The United Kingdom is way behind other countries in wearing face coverings, but there’s been unclear messaging and contradictory guidance, and it’s led to people following their own decisions.
But whatever the motives, we need to subdue our reservations and wear face coverings whenever we’re around others in public.
It used to be completely normal to have a few drinks and drive home, and it used to be normal to drive without seat belts. Today both of these would be deemed anti-social and not wearing face coverings in public should be viewed in the same way.
And if all of us wear one, we protect each other and thereby ourselves in reducing transmission. But the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) has previously stated that the evidence does not currently support the use of masks to protect the wearer in the general population.
But the group stated that if someone was contagious with COVID 19 symptoms, face coverings would decrease transmission.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has concluded that the use of medical masks could prevent the spread of droplets from an infected person.
It stated, however, that there’s currently no proof that wearing a mask, whether medical or other types by healthy persons in the wider community setting, including universal community masking, could prevent them from infection with respiratory viruses, including COVID 19.
A report by the Royal Society’s Set-C (Science in Emergencies Tasking – COVID 19) group, published that they thought the behavioural factors in the public’s adherence to wearing face coverings.
The report, which hasn’t been subjected to formal peer review, found that, in late April, the uptake of wearing face coverings in the United Kingdom was about 25 per cent, compared with 83.4 per cent in Italy, 65.8 per cent in the United States and 63.8 per cent in Spain.
What is obvious is that it’s not the public’s fault for not wearing masks in the United Kingdom because public messaging has varied across England, Scotland and Wales, and now we require consistent management and effective public messaging which is essential.
A study, published from Oxford’s Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science, found that cloth face coverings were effective in decreasing the spread of the virus, for both the wearer and those around them.
This pertains to homemade masks made with the right material, while loosely sewn materials such as scarves were shown to be less efficient.
The study further discovered that face masks were part of a policy package that needed to be seen together with other measures, such as social distancing and hand sanitation.
Authors of the second report said new evidence strongly encouraged the use of masks where physical distancing of more than one metre can’t be maintained, such as in stores and office buildings.
An update on an earlier publication from Data Evaluation and Learning for Viral Epidemics (DELVE), the report, which has not been subjected to formal peer inspection, references a study which implies that face coverings can also give protection to the wearer.
And there are people without symptoms going about their everyday affairs who are unknowingly breathing out droplets that are carrying the virus, but meanwhile, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has decided that the use of a medical mask could limit the spread of droplets from an infected person.
However, that said, there is currently no proof that wearing a mask, whether medical or other types by healthy persons in the wider community setting, including universal community masking, can prevent them from infection with respiratory viruses, including COVID 19 – so enough said, from now on people won’t be wanting to wear a face nappy.
The Prime Minister’s office stated that they were always clear about the use of masks – when was this? Was it when they were telling people there was no benefit from wearing one or when they were telling us that the science didn’t support the use of them?
It’s not the masks that are needed, it’s common sense which sadly many people don’t have, and we shouldn’t still be arguing this in July, it should have all been cleared up in March, then things could have opened up far more safely and swiftly.
And if we can’t formulate the mask + face = lower infections, then all hope is lost, and how on earth will they deal with the more obscure dilemmas that are destined to develop throughout the next few years?