Farcical Lack of Leadership Over Face Masks

Wearing face masks in public spaces is now the norm across Europe and the purpose is to help prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. 

In practice, this means that everyone over 5 wears a face mask when they step out of their front door and the mask stays on until people return home or reach a destination where social distancing is properly organised - in cafes, bars, restaurants and so on. 

Politicians in the UK are slowly being persuaded to take the issue much more seriously and face masks are now required to be worn in school corridors and common areas, for example, but not in classrooms. 

Also, the policy ceases to apply as soon as teenagers are outside the school gate, unless they get on a bus or a train, of course, where the face mask rules kick back in again.    

So surely a better way forward is to require face masks to be worn in all public spaces whether people are out for a walk or en route to the supermarket, place of work, school, university, cafes, bars and restaurants etc.


Farcical Lack of Leadership Over Face Coverings (19/06/20)

So the Scottish Government has followed the lead of the UK Government by announcing that face coverings are to become compulsory on public transport.

The requirement to wear a face covering is not being applied to shops and supermarkets which makes no sense because people infected with the virus but show no symptoms remain free to mix and mingle, at close range, with their fellow citizens. 

The Scottish Government is also allowing a number of exemptions to apply - people with breathing difficulties for example - which is crazy if you ask me, because it's obviously dangerous for these individuals to be out in public in the first place.


Farcical Lack of Leadership Over Face Coverings (05/06/20)

I think it's fair to say that there has been a farcical lack of leadership from the Scottish and UK governments on the issue of wearing face masks to stop the spread of Covid-19. 

The Scottish and UK governments have been dithering for weeks, but from Monday 15 June face masks will become compulsory for all passengers using public transport in England. 

The threat posed by people who are infected with Covid-19 without showing symptoms is clear, yet politicians have failed to act by insisting that face masks must be worn in shops and other areas where social distancing is difficult.   

The report below in The Herald suggests that face masks may be a problem for people suffering from asthma, but this is simply nonsense because anyone suffering from chronic asthma or a similar condition should be 'shielding' at home instead of being 'out and about' 


Coronavirus: Sturgeon considering 'mandatory' face coverings

By Tom Gordon - The Herald (04/06/20)

Coronavirus: Sturgeon considering 'mandatory' face coverings

NICOLA Sturgeon has said she is considering making face coverings mandatory in shops, public transport and enclosed spaces amid fears too few people are wearing them.

The First Minister said she thought the measure would be “inevitable”, although she added no final decision had yet been made.

Earlier this week, Ms Sturgeon also threatened to legislate to clamp down on travel and socialising after mass breaches of the guidance when the lockdown eased last Friday.

Countries in which face coverings are common, such as South Korea, have seen far fewer Covid deaths than the UK.

The Scottish Government first advised people to wear face coverings in shops and on public transport on April 28 to help guard against spreading the coronavirus.

However this has always been voluntary, not compulsory.

At the Scottish Government daily briefing, th First Minister announced another nine people had died overnight from coronavirus in Scotland, taking the laboratory confirmed total to 2,395.

She said this was the first time deaths had been in single figures on a week day (when reporting is more comprehensive than at weekends) since March 27.

She also said the R number, the rate oof reproductions, had dropped slightly from a range of 0.7 to 1 to a range of 0.7 to 0.9 over the last week.

However she said the latest R number did not take into account the first weekend of the lockdown easing last weekend, when thousands of families met up and road traffic surged 70 per cent.

She stressed Covid remained an ongoing threat and urged households which met outdoors last weekend in the sun not to move indoors if the weather was poor this weekend, as the rate of transmission was far higher indoors than in the open air.

Asked if she was considering making face coverings mandatory, she said: “Yes, it is under consideration. I said when I announced the policy some weeks back that we would kep the policy under review.

"So we haven’t reached a final position on this, but it is fair to say it is something that we are considering. I think that is inevitable.

“I understand why some people may not want to wear face coverings. It’s not the most comfortable thing to do. The scientific advice and evidence on this is not overwhelming, but there is a benefit to be had.

“If you wear a face covering in an enclosed space where physical distancing is a bit more difficult, there is some evidence that you wearing a face covering can protect someone else.

“If you have the virus, and if you’re not symptomatic you may not know it, you can then protect or minimise the risk of your transmitting the virus to somebody else. Of course another person wearing a face mask is protecting you the same way.”

She said wanted to “strongly encourage people” to wear face coverings as advised.

“If you haven’t already been doing it, or if you started to do it, found it uncomfortable and haven’t continued - please, please consider this very carefully, because we want to make sure we’re doing everything we can to reduce the risk of transmission.”

She said coverings could be made at home, advised the public against trying to source medical-grade masks needed by the NHS and care sector.

“These are things we encourage people to make at home. You can make these things from cloth, textiles, old T-shirts, for example and there’s plenty of advice out there to do that,” she said.

She said there would be exemptions for health reasons and for some age groups, such as young children, if face coverings did become mandatory.

She said: “For people who have asthma for example it would not be reasonable to insist that they wear face masks. So these are careful judgments and they have to be very carefully considered.

“But as we open up more, particularly as more people go back to work in the future, and more people use public transport, I think that we will want to see people where they can wearing a face covering.

"If we have to change the nature and the status of the advice we’re giving to people to make that happen, that has clearly got to be something that we are prepared to keep under consideration.”

Ms Sturgeon’s comment follow MSPs expressing concern about the number of people following the current non-mandatory guidance.

At Holyrood’s Covid-19 committee on Wednesday, Annabelle Ewing, the SNP MSP for Cowdenbeath, said: “I was at a supermarket last night. I think I was the only person in the entire shop wearing a face covering. I know the message is, that we should be doing this, but evidently more people are not yet doing that.”

Cabinet Secretary Mike Russell agreed there was a problem.

He said: “I have noticed myself, wearing a face covering at a filling station, I was the only person who was doing so. I know there’s an awful of thinking going on about that.

“I would encourage people to wear one, and to wear one when in shops.

“Sometimes I think people think they’re going to be stared at or looked at.

“We should get to the stage where, if everybody’s doing it, then the person who’s not doing it is the person who’s looked at and stared at.

“So I think you’re right, and I think we need to look at that very, very seriously.

“There has been a debate about the efficacy of it, but I think there is a growing public view that we should see it more.”

Coronavirus and Face Masks (02/06/20)

The Times reports that Scotland's first minister, Nicola Sturgeon was apparently unaware that carriers of the Coronavirus were able to spread the disease - even if they displayed none of the usual symptoms including a high temperature, dry cough, headaches, loss of taste and smell.

Now I'll be interested to see how this plays out because home carers in Glasgow were complaining weeks ago that they were only required to use PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) - if and when their clients started to display Covid-19 symptoms.  

The sensible move would obviously have been to assume that everyone was a potential carrier of Coronavirus once 'lockdown' began back on 24 March, yet the Scottish Government's advice remained firmly opposed to the wearing of face masks - see post below 'Better Safe Than Sorry' dated 08 April 2020.

"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."

Even now the wearing of face masks by home carers remains 'voluntary' whereas the wearing of hi-vis jackets and safety helmets is mandatory on building sites.    



Coronavirus in Scotland: Sturgeon’s ignorance of science advice on carriers questioned

Nicola Sturgeon and Jeane Freeman are facing calls about their treatment of care homes - 

By Mark McLaughlin - The Times

Nicola Sturgeon is facing calls for a public inquiry into care home deaths after she claimed to be unaware of evidence from her advisers that asymptomatic carriers could infect others.

About 900 hospital patients were transferred to care homes in Scotland to free up beds for the NHS but were not routinely tested until April 22. They have since become the front line of Scotland’s coronavirus pandemic.

The first minister told Sophy Ridge on Sunday on Sky News that had she known about asymptomatic transmission earlier in the outbreak she may have made different choices.

The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), the UK government panel regularly attended by Scottish government scientists and officials, has warned of asymptomatic transmission since January, according to minutes that were declassified last week.

Miles Briggs, the Scottish Conservative health spokesman, said Ms Sturgeon must clarify what she knew about asymptomatic transmission and when or launch a full public inquiry.

Boris Johnson, the prime minister, is facing similar questions over hospitals discharging patients to care homes after issuing advice that infection of residents was “very unlikely” in the early stages of the outbreak.

Ms Sturgeon said: “Back then the view was that people who didn’t have symptoms, either because they were pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic, didn’t shed the virus. If I were to take what we know now about asymptomatic transmission and apply that to that period [prior to April 22], we may well have taken different decisions.”

Jim McMenamin, interim clinical director at Health Protection Scotland, attended the second meeting of Sage on Covid-19 on January 28. Minutes stated: “There is limited evidence of asymptomatic transmission, but early indications imply some is occurring.”

On February 18, Andrew Rambaut, professor of molecular evolution at Edinburgh University, advised Sage that “more comprehensive swabbing of returning global travellers during isolation would be useful”.

On March 13, the day Scotland recorded its first coronavirus death, Jeane Freeman, the health secretary, told MSPs that swabbing at airports was “not the scientific or clinical advice”.

An employee from Nike’s European headquarters in the Netherlands is thought to have triggered Scotland’s first coronavirus outbreak at a conference in Edinburgh in February.

The Scottish government launched a covert effort to contain the outbreak through isolation and contact tracing, despite the advice of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling a month earlier that there was “a realistic probability” contact tracing would not contain outbreaks outside China.

Evidence of asymptomatic transmission grew and on April 7 Sage discussed a study on school closures by Joe Hallgarten, of the Education Development Trust, published one week earlier, that stated: “Unlike ebola, transmission of Covid-19 is asymptomatic.”

That day the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act came into force, empowering councils to move adults lacking capacity from hospitals to care homes, even if they or their families objected.

A requirement to conduct two negative tests before a patient is discharged to a care home was not implemented until April 22.

Ms Freeman defended her decisions at the Scottish government briefing.

“We didn’t dismiss any concerns at any point where those concerns were raised with us, in any respect whether it was around discharge to hospital or any other matter around handling of the pandemic where those concerns were evidenced.” she said.

Jason Leitch, the Scottish government’s national clinical director who last week apologised for claiming that ministers wanted to increase gradually the number of people infected in March to reach herd immunity, said: “We now know that asymptomatic carriage is a challenge and people do shed some virus, but nothing like as much as when they have symptoms. The pre-symptomatic phase is not as dangerous as the symptomatic phase.”

Mr Briggs said: “Everyone knew pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic could carry and spread the disease. Sage knew about it. Nicola Sturgeon’s advisers were there. So I’d be interested to know whose view she is promoting.

“If Sturgeon simply misspoke, I’d ask her and the SNP health secretary to correct this now. If this is being offered as an excuse as to why hundreds of vulnerable people were transferred into care homes without testing, this is a matter for an urgent public inquiry.”

Ian Murray, the shadow Scottish secretary, said: “This raises further questions about the decisions taken by the Scottish government.”

Better Safe Than Sorry (08/04/20)

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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