Health

Rishi Sunak is pictured wearing face mask that 'acts like a jet' to SPREAD Covid


Rishi Sunak has been ridiculed online for wearing a face mask that acts like a ‘jet’ to spread coronavirus

The Chancellor posted an image of himself wearing a grey mask fitted with a valve carrying a Pret a Manger bag, telling his followers he was ‘making the most’ of the coffee chain’s price cut. 

But a top Oxford University professor and ex-Tory MP Rory Stewart both criticised Mr Sunak for wearing the wrong type of covering.

Professor Trisha Greenhalgh, a firm believer that masks help to cut transmission of the coronavirus, tweeted: ‘Not that one Rishi. One without a valve. Way to go.’ In response to another Twitter user saying it was better than wearing nothing at all, she said his valve was worse because it ‘makes the exhalation into a jet’.

Mr Stewart, a former Conservative leader candidate, said a ‘little guidance maybe needed’ and warned the point of masks is to protect others.

It comes as it was revealed today that the government has updated its advice to say face coverings are now recommended in all enclosed spaces — despite ministers claiming office workers would not need to cover-up, nor would people in pubs or restaurants.

The guidance — issued by the Cabinet Office — was updated alongside details of the new law, which will make it mandatory for everyone in England to wear a covering in shops and supermarkets from July 24.

But Number 10’s policy has been engulfed in chaos, with Michael Gove sparking a furore at the weekend by publicly making clear he did not think they should be required by law. 

And yesterday Downing Street claimed masks are not necessary in takeaway food outlets — just hours after Health Secretary Matt Hancock suggested the opposite.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak posted a picture of himself yesterday wearing a covering while getting a takeaway from Pret

Professor Trisha Greenhalgh, of Oxford University, tweeted: 'Not that one Rishi. One without a valve. Way to go.' In response to another Twitter user saying it was better than wearing nothing at all, she said his valve was worse because it 'makes the exhalation into a jet'.

Professor Trisha Greenhalgh, of Oxford University, tweeted: ‘Not that one Rishi. One without a valve. Way to go.’ In response to another Twitter user saying it was better than wearing nothing at all, she said his valve was worse because it ‘makes the exhalation into a jet’.

Rory Stewart, a former Conservative leader candidate, said a 'little guidance maybe needed' and warned the point of masks is to protect others

Rory Stewart, a former Conservative leader candidate, said a ‘little guidance maybe needed’ and warned the point of masks is to protect others

WHAT IS WRONG WITH MASKS THAT HAVE A VALVE IN? 

Masks containing one-way valves are usually used in construction, allowing labourers to breathe in filtered air that doesn’t contain dust.

But the coverings — banned in some parts of the US, according to Forbes — do not filter exhaled air.

Because of this, doctors say they aren’t appropriate for medical settings because they offer very little protection for others around them.

The valve doesn’t prevent the wearer from spreading the virus.  

In comparison, cloth masks are intended to trap droplets released when the wearer talks, coughs or sneezes.

And Professor Trisha Greenhalgh, of Oxford University, claimed the valve ‘makes the exhalation into a jet’.

The Times reported today that the Cabinet Office has quietly updated its advice on masks, saying: ‘You are also strongly encouraged to wear a face covering in other enclosed public spaces where social distancing may be difficult and where you come into contact with people you do not normally meet.’

But Mr Hancock claimed there are no plans to make masks compulsory for office workers, telling the BBC it was ‘something we’ve looked at and rejected’.

The Health Secretary — who in April said the science had been ‘clear from the start’ that masks were useless — warned coverings would be mandatory in shops for the ‘foreseeable future’. 

The Times reports that the guidance, which also advises people not to place their worn masks on tables in restaurants, is likely to apply to museums and galleries — but not pubs or eateries.      

It comes after Sadiq Khan yesterday accused the government of ‘risking the health of the public’ to spare Mr Gove’s blushes. 

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Mr Gove — who dismissed the idea of making face coverings compulsory in shops at the weekend, saying it was best to ‘trust’ the public to make a personal decision — was widely criticised for emerging without one from a Pret in London on Tuesday.

This was despite cabinet colleagues Liz Truss and Mr Sunak being pictured wearing one.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was also seen wearing a mask earlier this week, hinting at the blanket rule for all on the high street.

Mr Hancock insisted yesterday morning that coverings will be required in venues like Pret when people buy things to go.

He suggested that the crucial point was that people needed to wear masks if they were not receiving table service, and confusingly claimed that ordering at the bar is not permitted at pubs — despite official guidance saying it is.

However, within hours Downing Street added to the bafflement by indicating that cafes and eateries will not be included in the law, as the system will only apply in ‘shops and supermarkets’ in England.

The response sparked anger from Mayor of London Mr Khan, who tweeted: ‘This is frankly ridiculous. The virus doesn’t know if you’re in a take-away or a supermarket.

‘The government is risking the health of the public to cover the back of a Cabinet Minister. Please wear a face covering in all shops and takeaways.’

Mr Gove finally fell into line yesterday by wearing an NHS-branded face covering in Whitehall.

Michael Gove yesterday

Mr Gove was pictured in Pret with a bare face on Tuesday

Michael Gove finally fell into line by wearing a mask in Westminster yesterday – after being pictured going into Pret on Tuesday with his face bare

Amid the confusion, Mr Hancock gave a stark message that the edict on face coverings was not going to be lifted any time soon. 

‘People will have to wear masks in shops and on public transport and in the NHS for the foreseeable future,’ he said.

Meanwhile, official guidance published by the government overnight has raised fresh doubts about how it can be policed. 

Despite the threat of £100 fines, the document says people can have a ‘legitimate’ excuse for not wearing a face covering if it causes them ‘distress’.

Amid growing disquiet at Labour’s refusal to take a position on a host of key issues, Sir Keir Starmer ignored the issue of masks entirely at PMQs.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, wearing a face mask, boards an ambulance to talk with a paramedic during a visit to the headquarters of the London Ambulance Service NHS Trust on Monday

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, wearing a face mask, boards an ambulance to talk with a paramedic during a visit to the headquarters of the London Ambulance Service NHS Trust on Monday

Mr Hancock suggested pubs were table service only, but in fact ordering drinks at the bar is permitted where it is 'unavoidable'

Mr Hancock suggested pubs were table service only, but in fact ordering drinks at the bar is permitted where it is ‘unavoidable’

What are the rules on face masks? 

The face mask rules vary across the UK.

In Scotland they are mandatory on public transport, and they became required in shops from last Friday. 

In England, they have been required on public transport since last month. Anyone who fails to use one can be refused passage or hit with a £100 fine.   

From July 24, face coverings will also be mandatory in shops and supermarkets in England.

Outlets ‘will be expected to encourage compliance with the law’ and can refuse entry. 

The government’s guidance says: ‘In both cases, if necessary, the police have the powers to enforce these measures, including through issuing a fine of £100.’

Matt Hancock suggested this morning that cafes such as Pret will be covered by the rule when they are acting ‘as shops’, for example selling takeaway coffee.

However, those sitting down to eat in the same venue will not be required to wear face masks. 

The advice adds: ‘You are also strongly encouraged to wear a face covering in other enclosed public spaces where social distancing may be difficult and where you come into contact with people you do not normally meet.’

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Doctors slam Downing Street for using a graphic of a man wearing a mask with a valve that’s ‘useless’ at protecting others in a video to explain rules about face coverings in shops

Doctors have called out the government for its new messaging regarding face coverings after it shared a video featuring a graphic of a man wearing a mask with a valve.

Number 10 on Tuesday shared a tweet explaining that face masks will become compulsory in shops in England from July 24 in an attempt to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Following Health Secretary Matt Hancock‘s announcement, the official Downing Street Twitter account shared a clip which told how wearing a face covering means you’re ‘protecting others’.

Doctors have called out the government for its new messaging regarding face coverings after it shared a video featuring a graphic of a man wearing a mask with a valve

Doctors have called out the government for its new messaging regarding face coverings after it shared a video featuring a graphic of a man wearing a mask with a valve

Julia Simons, the medical student representative of the Doctors' Association UK who has worked on the frontline of the pandemic during her final year studying, spotted the blunder

Julia Simons, the medical student representative of the Doctors’ Association UK who has worked on the frontline of the pandemic during her final year studying, spotted the blunder

Doctors Nisreen Alwan and Dr Bharat Pankhania also explained the reasoning behind not wearing a mask with a valve in response to the government's video

Doctors Nisreen Alwan and Dr Bharat Pankhania also explained the reasoning behind not wearing a mask with a valve in response to the government’s video

Numerous Twitter users waded in on the debate, all criticising the video for promoting masks with valves which don't protect others

Numerous Twitter users waded in on the debate, all criticising the video for promoting masks with valves which don’t protect others

An additional video has since been shared by Downing Street featuring a woman wearing a mask without a valve. The new video, shared earlier this morning, also states that exemptions to the face covering rule include young children, people with breathing difficulties and people living with a disability

An additional video has since been shared by Downing Street featuring a woman wearing a mask without a valve. The new video, shared earlier this morning, also states that exemptions to the face covering rule include young children, people with breathing difficulties and people living with a disability

Health Secretary Matt Hancock struggled to explain the new system coming into force from July 24 amid warnings from police that it will be completely unenforceable

Health Secretary Matt Hancock struggled to explain the new system coming into force from July 24 amid warnings from police that it will be completely unenforceable

Do face coverings help reduce coronavirus transmission? 

Initially many authorities, including the World Health Organization (WHO), suggested face coverings were not effective in preventing the spread of Covid-19 but are now recommending wearing them in indoor spaces.

So, has the science evolved on face coverings?

A report recently published by the Royal Society suggests that even basic homemade face coverings can reduce transmission if enough people wear them.  

Dr Julian Tang, who is an associate professor of respiratory sciences at the University of Leicester, said wearing face coverings in public places could keep the R value below 1 by creating an ‘artificial herd immunity’. 

But Dr Simon Clarke, an associate professor of cellular microbiology at the University of Reading, said that while face coverings may reduce the spread of cough droplets, robust epidemiological evidence on their benefits is still lacking. 

Are there any benefits to wearing them?

Experts say the risk of coronavirus transmission appears to be higher in poorly ventilated indoor spaces and wearing face coverings in small shops or enclosed shopping centres could help reduce the spread. 

In addition, there is also increased evidence which suggests that many people with the virus who do not have symptoms can still be contagious.  

What does this mean for those looking to go back to the office?

Experts say wearing face coverings could provide an added line of defence amid growing evidence of airborne transmission of coronavirus. 

Dr Tang said: ‘If half the people in the office wear a mask, it would increase artificial herd immunity to around 25%, which can reduce transmission overall within the office, just by reducing the number of people who are susceptible.’

Are there downsides to face coverings?

There are many indoor spaces, such as pubs and restaurants, where the use of face coverings may not be possible. 

Some experts have also shared concerns that wearing face coverings may give the wearer a false sense of security, although Prof Neal said there is ‘no evidence to suggest that is the case’.

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Are some face coverings better than others?

The WHO advises a three-layer face covering in the community – the outer layer should be water resistant, the inner should be water absorbent and the mid-layer acts as a filter. 

The Government has said coverings can be made from scarves, bandanas or other fabric items, as long as they cover the mouth and nose.

But scientists at the Leverhulme Centre say some coverings are not as effective as others, with loosely woven fabrics, such as scarves, shown to be the least effective.       

But dozens of users, including several doctors, pointed out that the type of mask pictured doesn’t stop the wearer from spreading Covid-19.  

Masks containing valves are usually used in construction and aren’t appropriate for medical settings because, although they filter the air used by the person wearing it, they offer very little protection for others around them.  

Julia Simons, the medical student representative of the Doctors’ Association UK who has worked on the frontline of the pandemic during her final year of studies, spotted the blunder.

She tweeted: ‘Please do wear a cloth face covering. Don’t wear a face mask with a valve. The valves mean your face mask is no use for protecting others.

‘How can the government video not get this right? Continuous dither, delay and disaster.’ 

Dr Nisreen Alwan, an epidemiologist, consultant in public health and an associate professor at Southampton University also criticised the video, tweeting: ‘The graphic is wrong.

‘Don’t use a mask with a valve because it pushes air out and doesn’t protect others. Use any cloth face covering over mouth and nose.’

Dr Bharat Pankhania, a senior clinical lecturer at the University of Exeter Medical School with over 20 years experience in communicable disease control and infectious disease management, added: ‘Just don’t use masks with a valve. 

‘It propels expired breath forcefully and this, as in Bernoulli’s principle, it will travel with greater velocity a lot further. It is not fit for purpose.’

The video remains on the government’s Twitter account, where it’s had over 153,500 views, however an additional one has now been shared featuring a woman wearing a mask without a valve.

The new video, shared earlier this morning, also states that exemptions to the face covering rule include young children, people with breathing difficulties and people living with a disability. 

Masks with valves have been banned in parts of the US, including Florida and California. 

Marisa Glucoft, director of infection prevention Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, previously said: ‘When you wear a mask with a valve, people around you are not protected because the valve lets all of your breath into the air.

‘From that perspective, it’s almost like you’re not wearing a mask at all.’

The San Francisco Department of Public Health also tweeted in May that masks with valves are ‘NOT safe’ and ‘may actually propel your germs further’.

The government’s face mask rules descended further into confusion today as Matt Hancock insisted they must be worn to get takeaway coffee but not in pubs.

The Health Secretary also denied speculation that Boris Johnson wants to make masks compulsory in offices as part of a drive to convince workers to return.

Meanwhile, official guidance published by the government overnight has raised fresh doubts about how it can be policed. 

Despite the threat of £100 fines, the document says people can have a ‘legitimate’ excuse for not wearing a face covering if it causes them ‘distress’.

The Police Federation, representing rank-and-file officers, has said it is ‘unrealistic and unfair’ to expect them to patrol the aisles looking for people breaking the coronavirus regulations.



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