When the medical team dealt with the first cases of COVID19 virus in Wuhan /China in late December 2019, it was clear that the world was facing a new health problem, which became a pandemic in a few weeks. Currently COVID19 virus is infecting 6 million people worldwide.
So far there is no vaccine or approved treatment for the virus (COVID19), but there are many laboratories across the world working hard to produce a much-needed vaccine although this process takes at least 18 months. There are many medical centres worldwide initiating the randomised controlled trials to find the best treatment which can mitigate the effects of the virus on the human being and reduce the severity of its symptoms. The aim as well is to find the treatment, which can prevent admission to the hospital if possible, or reduce the duration of hospitalisation.
Whilst this remains the case, it important to think about the prevention and keep the arrangement for social distancing and good standard of self-hygiene by washing hands with soap for 20 seconds and keep 2 meters distance with others if you are outside. Wearing masks can also be a very useful measure to prevent the spread of the virus, which in medicine is always better than the cure.
The WHO (World Health Organisation) mentioned recently in its advice to the public that wearing masks is necessary if you are coughing or sneezing. The advice said that:
Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
Masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
The advice continues to mention that:
Before putting on a mask, clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
Cover mouth and nose with mask and make sure there are no gaps between your face and the mask.
Avoid touching the mask while using it; if you do, clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
Replace the mask with a new one as soon as it is damp and do not re-use single-use masks.
To remove the mask: remove it from behind (do not touch the front of mask); discard immediately in a closed bin; clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
As of today, Friday 5th June 2020, the government advice is that face coverings should be worn on all public transport in England by 15th June, with measures likely to follow to other parts of the UK. The British Medical Association (BMA) have urged government to extend this advice to all areas where social distancing is not possible. BMA Council chair Dr Chaang Nagpaul said “Given there remains a considerable risk of infection, with thousands of new cases every day, wearing masks can reduce the spread of the virus.
“Not only will this afford greater protection to the public, importantly it will protect the lives of the staff working on public transport who, as evidence suggests, are at greater risk of infection.”
The extent by which the spread of coronavirus is reduced by wearing masks is not definitive however latest scientific evidence suggests wearing masks does offer some protection and we can clearly expect this to become the new normal to life in the UK.
Written by Dr Amer Jafar
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