This week the UK government announced that the wearing of face masks will be mandatory in English shops from 24 July. Dr James Gill, Honorary Clinical Lecturer at the University of Warwick and a Locum GP, comments on how wearing masks can help us to protect each other:
Science evolves. Medicine takes in new information and utilises it to provide improved care for patients
At the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, there was significant debate about both the need, and the utility of wearing face masks in public as a way of minimising transmission
That debate has now pretty much been put to rest, and it is widely acknowledged that wearing of masks in public is a vital public health tool to curbing the spread of COVID19.
The benefit of mask use is cumulative. The people wearing the masks get a small benefit if they are exposed to COVID19; however if someone has an active COVID19 infection and wears a mask, then there is a MASSIVE reduction in risk to people they have contact with.
As a result there is a significant social responsibility to wearing a mask. For the vast majority of people, a mask is about protecting others, rather than having a benefit themselves.
Wearing a mask acts as a visual demonstration that a person is doing what they can to help others during this pandemic. Conversely, opting not to wear a mask could be considered selfish at best, and dangerous at worst. As a result, the government is mandating the use of face masks in public, reinforced by a £100 fine for those note wearing a face covering.
There will be people who will object to these measures, however I wonder if those same people would object to speed limits outside of schools? Sometimes protecting others is not only the right thing to do, but the only option.
15 July 2020
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