Masks On vs Masks Off (19/04/20)

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has waded into the 'Masks on vs Masks Off' debate with his call for face masks to be worn while travelling in London.

Sounds like a sensible idea if you ask me, one that's now common in other major cities around the world. 

My friend James' has another good suggestion - why are the joggers and cyclists who come hurtling past fellow Glaswegians at speed (huffing, puffing and gasping for breath) not required to wear face masks?  

I don't know I have to admit, but I do agree with James' point.

Coronavirus: London mayor Sadiq Khan calls for 'compulsory' face masks

Image copyright - GETTY IMAGES Image caption - Some Londoners have been wearing face masks when travelling for several weeks

Wearing face masks while travelling in London should be compulsory, city mayor Sadiq Khan has told the government.

Despite UK public health experts not currently recommending the use of face-coverings, Mr Khan is lobbying for guidelines to be changed.

It comes after it was made compulsory in New York on Wednesday, with similar schemes also being operated in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

UK government social distancing guidelines do not mention face masks.

"[But] the evidence around the world is that this is effective," Mr Khan said.

"I'm lobbying our government and advisers to change their advice, and I want us to do that sooner rather than later.

"They are already reviewing this on the basis of our representation."

Image copyright - PA MEDIA Image caption - Sadiq Khan is calling on the government to change scientific advice to require people to wear face masks outside

The World Health Organization (WHO) says it remains the case that medical masks should be reserved for healthcare workers, not the general public.

But WHO special envoy Dr David Nabarro has suggested more widespread use of masks will become "the norm" as the world adjusts to living with Covid-19.

Shaun Bailey, the Conservative candidate for London mayor however, has accused Mr Khan of not doing enough to help supply personal protective equipment (PPE) to Transport for London (TFL) staff and this also should be compulsory.

Mr Bailey claims to have sourced 600,000 face masks and vinyl gloves - enough to protect every bus worker for 30 days.

"The mayor of London is also the chairman of TfL, and his failure to provide transport workers with PPE is putting lives at risk," said Mr Bailey.

"If he wanted to, he can start tomorrow by sourcing PPE for all 60,000 of the transport staff who work for him.

"Now more than ever, London needs its mayor to take responsibility and to stop blaming the government to score political points during a national crisis."

Media caption - Should I wear a mask to stop coronavirus?

Masks On vs Masks Off (17/04/20)

The pros and cons of wearing face masks to hinder the spread of Coronavirus has been debated for weeks now, but I think it is fair to say that most countries are moving in the direction of a 'Masks On' policy.

Here's my understanding of the current position based on reports from reputable newspapers and reliable web sites.

Italy - compulsory use of face masks in some regions such as Lombardy 

Germany - strongly recommends its citizens wear protective face masks while shopping and using public transport 
Spain - voluntary at the moment, but moving in the direction of compulsory use
France - same as Spain
Austria - compulsory for shopping trips
Portugal - compulsory in open spaces
Czech Republic - compulsory in public spaces
Slovakia - compulsory in public spaces
Canada - Government strongly recommends

New York City - Governor Cuomo has ordered employers of 'essential workers' to provide employees with face masks

America - Government strongly recommends wearing of face masks in public

Which begs the question - why is Scotland and the rest of the UK at the coo's tail?


Masks On vs Masks Off (15/04/20)

Photo - EPA

Spain appears to have embraced the more widespread wearing of masks to combat the spread of Coronavirus although according to the report below in The Times.

The question remains, particularly for essential care workers, is it a case of 'Masks On' or Masks Off' - and how can such an important safety issue be left for individual workers to decide?


Workers in Spain voice fears after coronavirus restrictions are eased

Pablo Sharrock - The Times

A number of workers in Spain returned to their jobs yesterday amid hopes that the pandemic had peaked as the daily death toll resumed its downward trend and new infections fell to the lowest level in three weeks.

Police handed out face masks at metro and railway stations as workers headed off to construction and manufacturing jobs that were previously categorised as non-essential.

Madrid’s public commuter system registered an increase of 35 per cent in passengers compared with last week, Ángel Garrido, the capital’s transport chief, said. However, he added that face masks were available only at about one in five metro stations.

Masks were given out by police at only a fifth of Madrid’s metro stations yesterday - EPA

The Ministry of the Interior has left it to the government’s delegations in each community to decide how they organise distribution of the ten million face masks that have been promised.

The easing of restrictions has not been welcomed in all quarters. Pedro Sánchez, the prime minister, has called the move the end of economic hibernation imposed on the country to bring the spread of the virus under control. Yet the stance has been criticised by regional government chiefs and scientists who believe it to be premature.

Mr Sánchez said that his government must balance its response to the virus crisis, which threatens to destroy lives and at the same time destroy the country’s economic and social fabric.

On Sunday he said that the decision to restart some sectors of the economy had been taken after consulting scientific experts. Any further relaxation would depend upon gains against the virus, he added. “We are still far from victory, from the moment when we can pick up our normal lives again, but we have made the first decisive steps in the path towards victory.”

Retail stores and services must stay closed and office staff should keep working from home, the government has ordered.

There were mixed feelings for some people heading back to work. Genis Para, a metal worker from Capellades in Catalonia, said: “My company let me know on Friday via a Whatsapp chat that we would be returning to work on Monday. Most of us want to go back. We need the money and we also have to make up for lost days. However, I don’t think that anyone should be returning to work just yet. This isn’t a normal situation.”

Rafael Antunez, a labourer in Pozuelo, Madrid, told El País: “I don’t know why the heck we have to go back if there is no way of maintaining a safe distance from each other. I just hope that my colleagues wear masks. If not, we are all screwed.”

A builder from Simancas, Madrid, one of about 1.7 million entitled to resume work in the construction sector, did not want to give his name but shared his scepticism about the government recommendations: “There’s a lot of protocol with very little focus on reality. This is simply because it is physically impossible for people in my line of work to maintain a safe distance or wear a face mask for eight hours. Our manager, who wrote these protocols, knows perfectly well that they aren’t all completely applicable.”

The death toll from the virus rose to 17,628 yesterday, up 656 from the previous day, according to the health ministry. The number of confirmed cases was 169,628, up from 166,019.

There could be serious effects from long-term confinement, Joan Ramón Villalbí, an epidemiologist, has said. “There are people living from day to day and after so much time with no activity, will not have money to buy food. This is also going to have consequences on health in the medium term and the psychological suffering will have an impact.”

Overall, 650,000 people have been sanctioned by police for failing to observe the lockdown, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, the interior minister, said. At the outset the government pledged to honour the salaries of all workers, framing it as a loan to be repaid after the emergency. This would be achieved, ministers said, by workers making up for their lost hours with overtime and not taking paid holiday.

Spain's Lockdown (14/04/20)

Spain is providing members of the public with free face masks as the country's tough lockdown rules, which have been in force for five weeks, begin to be relaxed. 


Start Spreading The News (13/04/20)

New York's Governor, Andew Cuomo, announced yesterday that he would sign an executive order to direct employers at essential businesses to provide their employees with cloth or surgical face masks to wear when interacting with the public.

So, I think it's fair to ask why Scotland is at the coo's tail over face masks and PPE? - because the safety issues involved are exactly the same on both sides of the Atlantic.


DIY Approach To Health and Safety (10/04/20)

Here's the official advice on PPE for care staff and their  service users which is to be followed in this stage of the  Coronavirus pandemic - the advice applies to both home care and residential/day care settings. 

"That guidance makes clear that social and home care workers can wear a fluid resistant face mask along with other appropriate PPE where the person they are visiting or otherwise attending to is neither confirmed nor suspected of having COVID19, if they consider doing so necessary to their own and the individual's safety - they are professionals and we trust their professional judgement.

"The guidance had input from Royal Colleges and is endorsed by expert scientific groups, as well as the Chief Medical Officers and Chief Nursing Officers in the UK."

Now this is a step forward if you ask me, because the previous official advice was that face masks were not necessary and should not be worn routinely.

But what puzzles me is this DIY approach on such a vital issue - for both residents and clients as well as care staff. 

If you ask me, it's a bit like having a voluntary smoking ban, or introducing rules about wearing hard hats, high vis vests and safety boots on building sites - which the workforce are free to comply with or ignore as they like.


Better Safe Than Sorry (09/04//20)

The Scottish Government's official advice to Home Care  staff is to wear a face mask only if a client is suspected to be, or is confirmed to be, Covid-19 positive. 

The official advice goes on to say:

"Where the person is neither suspected to be, nor confirmed as COVID positive, care at home staff carrying out personal care should wear what they have always worn – that is, an apron and gloves; and no mask.

"This applies regardless of the 2m distance. The same would apply to a community nurse visiting the same client: they too would wear gloves and apron, and no mask.

"Furthermore, home care workers and community staff going into people’s houses should only wear a mask when they suspect the person has COVID, and they cannot keep a 2m distance.

"If this is not suspected – or if they can keep a 2m distance – then they do not need to wear a mask."

What puzzles me is how individual carers are supposed to know the state of every client's health before going into their homes - and how is it even possible for Home Carers to keep 2 metres distance from vulnerable clients whom they are helping to keep out of hospital?   

So why not put everyone's safety first - the safety of both the carers and their clients - by ensuring that the official advice is changed and that face masks are worn until further notice, as a matter of course.

After all these are very scary and unprecedented times and if the carers feel safer - their clients are bound to feel the benefit as well.

Glasgow home care service Cordia accused of not providing PPE for care workers

By Catherine Hunter - Evening Times

A GLASGOW care service has disputed claims that staff are not being provided with protective equipment as they carry out home visits to vulnerable people.

Cordia, which is delivered by the City Council under the management of Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership has been accused of not providing enough PPE (personal protective equipment) by worried Glaswegians.

Some members of the public say they have spotted staff going into homes without adequate PPE.

One concerned constituent, who doesn’t want to be identified, said: “I have a family member who works as a carer for Cordia.

“She was promised she would have protective equipment supplied as she has to care for elderly patients which also means going into their house.

“She has not been provided with a mask, gloves, hand sanitizer and was given only three aprons. She works seven days on and seven days off.

“How are three aprons going to last? She is in her mid-50s and is at an increased risk because of this.

“Cordia and putting the lives of their carer staff at risk as they are not providing the necessary equipment. I am extremely worried for my family member.”

Glasgow’s Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) has confirmed that they are following all the guidelines issues by Public Health Scotland by providing enough equipment.

No member of staff should be working without the protection that is appropriate for their role.

A spokesman said: "Glasgow HSCP is following guidelines issued by Public Health Scotland in providing staff with the appropriate PPE equipment required to safely carry out their duties in the community.

"There is currently sufficient supply of PPE so that no member of HSCP staff should be working without the protection that is appropriate for their role.

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