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Face up the Future: To mask or not to mask?

Colin Dang

 

Face Up the Future: To mask or not to mask?

 

While most of us appreciated the value of face coverings during the height of the pandemic, the position is less clear as the vaccination roll out gathers pace. Our resident expert, Colin D of Coda Pharmacy, takes a look. Like the initial coronavirus spread, and the global response to it, countries are inconsistent in the use of facemasks across the globe. The wisdom is not as received as you might think.  

As this BBC article explains, the US is correlating the gathering vaccine rollout with the decline in the use of face masks. In other words, the more people vaccinated, the fewer situations now require masks. In the UK, we’re more cautious.

There is also a disparity between the different home nations’ approaches, it’s easy to be confused. And we’re not where we need to be in terms of reduction spread to support a more relaxed approach.

 

So why wear a mask?

 

The terms ‘face coverings’ and ‘masks’ are often used interchangeably to indicate a physical barrier covering the wearers’ nose and mouth. Masks reduce coronavirus spread by preventing the escape of the droplets which are well established transmission sources.

They prevent the spread of droplets from people who cough, sneeze or speak while contagious, including the asymptomatic, and follows the ‘act as though you have it’ narrative. If everyone wears one, the risk for all goes down. Certainly, masks can protect the wearer as part of a Covid-compliant regime of social distancing and handwashing.

We must wear them where social distancing isn’t possible and transmission between carriers and the wider public most definitely is, for example using public transport, or shops. Rules in England vary from those elsewhere in the UK, but penalties for non-compliance all involve fines and of course, a potential public – and personal – health issue.

 

 When can we go mask-free again?

Despite appearances to the contrary, the UK Government continues to mandate the ‘stay at home’ instruction. It aligns this advice with their ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown, which is broken down into four key dates. The success of the roadmap depends on the rollout of the vaccination programme, the gamechanging initiative that has already administered 17 million people with at least the first jab. But viruses don’t follow roadmaps and if the now-famous slides move in the wrong direction again, it will prompt full stop to our freedoms. The British Medical Journal is discussing an additional vaccination rollout to address an autumn infection surge some, including the CMO for Northern Ireland, feel is inevitable. While the WHO continue to promote face masks, they are likely to be around for some time, particularly during winter. Health Secretary Matt Hancock MP hopes they will become the norm on public transport as a matter of "personal responsibility".

 

Face facts: masks and how to wear them

As we have said, a ‘mask’ is simply any form of fabric of other artificial material that covers the nose and mouth. Some are more effective than others, and the best are the FFP3 respirator (or similar) masks worn by healthcare workers in high-risk settings. Germany and Austria mandate medical-grade masks on public transport and in shops. These masks offer maximum protection from breathing air pollution, offering a maximum total leakage of 5% while filtering 99% of all particles, including poisonous, oncogenic and radioactive particles. Cloth face coverings do not protect as much protection, but anything with at least a couple of layers is better than nothing. You can even make your own.

Wearer tips include:

  • Choose a mask or face covering with a nose wire.
  • Check it fits snugly over the mouth, nose and chin.
  • Tie a knot in the ear loops of surgical masks to make a better fit.

How we can help

Coda Pharmacy is a family run business, with an online presence that complements our independent pharmacies in Brighton. We offer many coronavirus-compliant products, including face masks and antibacterial products and a prescription delivery service to prevent unnecessary trips outside. We’re always happy to advise our customers on the products that will help ensure they are safe and ready for the mask-free days ahead.

 

Contact us for more information.

 

We hope you found this blog useful.

The Coda Team

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