Doctors’ leaders say face coverings should be worn in Wales
Doctors’ leaders are calling on Welsh Government to change their position on face coverings, saying that they should be worn in areas where people cannot socially distance.
The call comes after the UK Government said all people traveling on public transport in England should wear a face covering from June 15.
Lat month Wales’ Chief Medical Officer said the wearing of face coverings should be a “personal choice” ands not mandatory.
BMA Cymru Wales council chair, Dr David Bailey said:
“BMA Cymru Wales advocates the wearing of face coverings by the public in areas where they cannot socially distance.
There still remains a considerable risk of infection, and emerging evidence has shown that if mouths and noses are covered when people are in areas where they cannot socially distance, it may help in in controlling the spread of infection of COVID-19 and therefore save lives.
BMA Cymru Wales is calling on Welsh Government to change their position immediately, to lessen the risk of the public spreading the virus.
Further, we are calling on Welsh Government to 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 sensible that these face coverings are not the same as the medical-grade masks which must be reserved for frontline staff whose job is dependent upon having them for adequate protection.
The public must be informed and educated on how and when to use face coverings properly and it must be made clear to the public that this does not reduce the need and importance of continued adherence to social distancing and proper hand hygiene.”
Asked about face coverings during today’s daily Welsh Government briefing, First Minister Mark Drakeford said:
“The context for face coverings has changed because of an announcement made yesterday in England about mandatory use of face masks on public transport.
That will not come in until the 15th of June and that gives us a short number of days in order to consider the position here in Wales recognising that changed context.
I’ve met today with the health minister and with the chief medical officer to consider this matter.
There are a whole series of detailed questions which we need to explore with our colleagues in England.
If this is to be mandatory, what will be the position of people who have asthmatic conditions.
If people are making long journeys by train from Edinburgh to Cardiff for example, what happens to people who need to eat a sandwich and have a drink.
What will be the case with the deaf community who’ve been in contact with us expressing their concerns because they rely on lip reading as the way in which they understand the world around them.
So we’re not going to just rush into an immediate decision because we don’t need to.
We will continue conversations over the weekend we will make a definitive statement in the first part of next week recognising the changed context in which advice now has to be given.”
Welsh Conservative Shadow Health Minister, Angela Burns MS, welcomed doctors’ leaders calls. she said:
“Unlike the Welsh Labour Government, we take the advice of doctors seriously and for that reason I welcome the suggestion that the general public, here in Wales, wear face masks in areas where socially distancing cannot be carried out.
Wearing face masks has already been introduced across the border and, sadly, it would seem the Welsh Government is, once again, playing catch-up with Westminster.
Admittedly, a risk remains despite wearing a facemask, but it is imperative that all avenues are explored to defeat Covid-19 once and for all.”
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