At the beginning of April Owl wrote:
Owl thinks this [wearing of face masks] will become an active debate within the next few days. Maybe academic because we don’t have a stockpile.
“It is a matter of orthodoxy at the UK Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) that surgical facemasks are a no-no as far as the public are concerned. Officials have long taken the view that paper masks do not protect against viruses and do not hold emergency stocks of them.”
This debate is starting in earnest now and shortage of masks is being cited as a reason for not advising them, so as not to deplete stock of clinical masks. (Clinical masks are not required for personal use)
Owl thinks that this is the sort of measure that will have to be considered as part of an exit strategy, particularly on public transport.
Coronavirus is spread by droplets that can spray into the air when those infected talk, cough and sneeze. These can enter the body through the eyes, nose and mouth, either directly or after touching a contaminated object.
The UK government is not currently advising most people to wear masks. However, its chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance has a review is ongoing.
At the weekend, a group of more than 100 doctors wrote an open letter to The Times saying they were “alarmed at official inaction over the need for the public to wear homemade face masks”, which could be made by volunteer groups.
They said it was “illogical” to advise people to wear masks if they are showing symptoms, but not if they appear symptom-free.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan is among those who want people to wear masks outside when social distancing is not possible. He said this would reduce the chances of passing on the virus.
The WHO has not changed its advice, but its special envoy Dr David Nabarro believes that in society, “some form of facial protection is going to become the norm”.