Covid-19: Why Dr Chaand Nagpaul wants face masks for all
The British Medical Association (BMA), the UK’s leading doctors’ union, has demanded that mandatory face covering requirements should be expanded as an immediate anti-coronavirus measure for all public places.
As the UK government announced that face coverings would become a compulsory condition of travel on public transport from June 15 in most parts of the country, BMA Council Chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul expressed fears that the measure simply does not go far enough.
Sooner rather than later
Dr Nagpaul said: “These important measures should not be restricted to public transport but to all areas where social distancing is not always possible – the risk will be much less if the public adopts this now – not mid-June.
“The BMA believes that the government should ensure a supply of face coverings for the public, similar to practices in other nations, as there will be circumstances where many individuals may not have the capacity to make them or may be unable to procure them when needed.
“It is vital that these face coverings are not the same as the medical-grade masks that have been in short supply and must be reserved for frontline staff whose job is dependent upon having them for adequate protection.”
The BMA has been advocating face coverings to be used in public for several weeks as it helps reduce the spread of the deadly virus. The UK government has so far refrained from making it compulsory until Transport Secretary Grant Shapps confirmed last week that a form of non-surgical face masks, including home-made face coverings, would become mandatory as the government eased the country’s lockdown further from mid-June.
“This will mean you can be refused travel if you don’t comply and could be fined,” the minister said.
The BMA welcomed the announcement because it believes that not only will this afford greater protection to the public but also protect the lives of the staff working on public transport. However, it wants the step expanded and brought in even sooner for public safety against the risk of Covid-19, which has claimed over 40,000 lives in the UK.
Stay at home
The current coronavirus lockdown guidance continues to advise against non-essential travel but as those conditions are gradually lifted, non-surgical face coverings must be worn on buses, trams, trains, coaches, aircraft and ferries across England and Wales. Very young children, disabled people and those with breathing difficulties will be in the category that is exempt. Scotland and Northern Ireland are also likely to follow similar steps.
Face coverings in transport settings can help people to avoid unknowingly spreading the virus if they are suffering from coronavirus, but not showing symptoms. However, social distancing by two metres and regular hand washing remain the most important measures in the fight against Covid-19.
by Nadia Hatink