There are still plenty of unknowns when it comes to Coronavirus. However, one thing that’s plainly clear is that masks are among the greatest tools we have at our disposal to help prevent the spread of the virus. The guidance has been changing alongside more and more research backing their effectiveness, with the UK’s National Academy of Science advising everyone to wear one when leaving home.
The UK has been far behind other countries in terms of mask usage though, with only 25% of people in the United Kingdom wearing face coverings, such as washable fashion face masks, compared to 83.4% in Italy and 63.8% in Spain. This was also noted by the President of the Royal Society, Professor Sir Venki Ramakrishnan, who said that “the message has not been clear enough” and advised their use “whenever you are in crowded public spaces”.
This came as the Royal Society published two reports on face coverings, which have informed their conclusions. One of the key pieces of evidence that comes up time and time again during these reports is the consensus that they have the possibility of lowering the risk of an infected person passing on the virus.
Venki added: “face coverings can help us protect others and reduce the spread of the virus if people are infected but not showing symptoms”. In other words, if we all come together and adopt face masks much more vigorously, we can reduce our collective risk of the spread of Coronavirus by lowering our personal ability to spread it to others. Remember that you can spread the virus without having symptoms or even being aware that you’re infected.
This is as much about protecting each other as it is about protecting ourselves. One of the misconceptions about wearing coverings like washable fashion face masks is that not doing so is only at that person’s own risk. But the science and the reports we’ve seen so far show us that is simply not the case. Wearing a mask is about being responsible when it comes to the health and lives of others. The fact is it’s not just your own health you’re risking – and that becomes even clearer the more we learn about this pandemic.
Why haven’t we adopted masks sooner?
Initially, masks were in short supply as the country had to respond quickly to a situation that was unprecedented in modern times. Naturally, there are certain people who need masks much more than others, including NHS workers and key workers more generally. It’s also true that we are constantly learning more and more about this virus and the ways in which it can be slowed down and prevented.
We’re still in a learning process. However, what has become clear in the UK and throughout the world is that masks are a vital part of that fight. They are already compulsory in many countries and are now mandatory on UK public transport. It’s advised that people wear coverings like washable fashion face masks when shopping, and on 10th July in Scotland, it became mandatory for people in stores to wear them. A similar situation is also expected in Ireland.
Another example of this progress is that the World Health Organisation changed its advice in June, saying that face coverings should be worn wherever possible in public to help prevent the spread.
While what we know about Coronavirus is improving by the day, the reports into the effectiveness of face coverings are only going one way. It’s now crystal clear that greater adoption of masks in the general public is vital in the fight against COVID.
And that’s a great thing. If something as simple as a face mask can help prevent people getting sick, it’s something we should celebrate and take on with gusto. This isn’t just about us as individuals: it’s about all of us, working together to help each other stay healthy. A washable fashion face mask isn’t just a tool to help prevent the spread of Coronavirus, but also a sign to everyone around you that you’re taking their health seriously and that you’re doing your part to help us all get through this together.