Rishi Sunak was pictured again today wearing a face mask that scientists say 'acts like a jet' to spread Covid-19 — despite being ridiculed for using
Rishi Sunak was pictured again today wearing a face mask that scientists say ‘acts like a jet’ to spread Covid-19 — despite being ridiculed for using the same covering yesterday.
The Chancellor — seemingly oblivious to the concerns of top scientists who called him out for his choice of mask — wore the grey covering with a white valve on a visit to a job centre in Barking, east London.
It comes after a top Oxford University professor and ex-Tory MP Rory Stewart both criticised Mr Sunak for wearing the covering.
Professor Trisha Greenhalgh, a firm believer that masks help to cut transmission of the coronavirus, said: ‘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. Other social media users jumped in to tell Mr Sunak he was setting a ‘bad example’ with his ‘exhaust pipe’ mask.
A mask with a valve filters the air the wearer inhales, but does not filter the air they exhale. Therefore scientists say virus-laden droplets are able to escape the mask, perhaps more so than a piece of material.
It comes amid ongoing confusion about Number 10’s policy on masks, which has been engulfed in chaos. Michael Gove sparked furore at the weekend by publicly making clear he did not think they should be required by law.
Rishi Sunak is still wearing a face mask that scientists claim ‘acts like a jet’ to spread germs. The Chancellor was pictured with the grey mask for a second day while chatting with staff at a job centre in Barking, east London,
Mr Suak posted a picture of himself yesterday wearing a covering while getting a takeaway from Pret, which led to criticism
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
Mr Sunak visited the London Jobcentre Plus hours after it was revealed the number of workers on UK company payrolls slumped by 650,000 during Britain’s coronavirus lockdown.
Posing with his valve fitted grey face mask, he appeared oblivious to the concerns of others on social media who called him out for his choice of covering.
The Department of Health and Social Care has also been blasted by top doctors for promoting masks fitted with valves in its new campaign.
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.
But dozens of users, including several doctors, pointed out that the type of mask pictured doesn’t stop the wearer from spreading Covid-19.
The aim of the valve is to make it easier for the wearer to breathe because the valve tends to filter the air coming in. But it doesn’t filter air when it is exhaled, rendering it useless in stopping infected patients from passing on the virus.
And the aim of making people wear face masks in public spaces is to prevent viral transmission from infected individuals to people around them.
Michael Gove sparked a furore at the weekend by publicly making clear he did not think they should be required by law. He is pictured leaving Pret a Manger in Westminster on Tuesday morning, hours before Matt Hancock announced face coverings would be mandatory in England from next Friday
Many members of the public were aware that valve masks did not offer the best level of virus control
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’.
N95 masks, masks that protect against at least 95 per cent of very small particles, are the gold standard for mask protection in a medical environment.
But commercially-made valve masks do not work in the same way, and while it may seem like an advanced mask than a piece of material, doctors say it may actually be worse.
Some US states have banned their use entirely, including California which ruled against them on April 17 with the addition of a $1,000 fine or imprisonment up to 90 days or both.
Cloth masks are intended to trap droplets released when the wearer talks, coughs or sneezes.
Britain was one of the last places of western nations to advise their use, first on public transport in England from June 15.
The Government announced on Monday night that face coverings will be made mandatory in shops and supermarkets i England as of July 24. This has been mandatory in Scotland since July 10.
The Times reported yesterday 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.’
The updated guidance came despite ministers claiming office workers would not need to cover-up, nor would people in pubs or restaurants.
Number 10’s policy has been engulfed in chaos, with Michael Gove sparking a furore last weekend by publicly making clear he did not think they should be required by law.
He was pictured leaving a Pret a Manger in Westminster on Tuesday without wearing a covering, proving ministers are divided on the issue just hours before Mr Hancock said they would be mandatory.
And yesterday Downing Street claimed masks are not necessary in takeaway food outlets — just hours after Matt Hancock suggested the opposite.
Mr Hancock insisted on Tuesday 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.
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.
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
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
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
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’.
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.