Calls from the Doctors’ Leaders in Wales, and further scientific evidence on the effectiveness of face coverings in the fight to stamp out coronavirus has prompted Plaid Cymru to repeat their calls on the Welsh Government to encourage the use face coverings.
After his calls in the Senedd on Wednesday for clear recommendations on the wearing of masks, Rhun ap Iorwerth, Plaid Cymru MS and Shadow Minister for Health and Care, has called on the Welsh Government to follow advice from doctors in Wales and the latest scientific evidence on face coverings, and to encourage the public to wear masks in certain enclosed public spaces.
British Medical Association (BMA) Wales has called on the Welsh Government to encourage face mask wearing in areas where people aren’t able to socially distance properly. In their statement, they said that “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.”
A growing science base which argues that face coverings contribute significantly to stopping the spread of the virus by reducing the rate of airborne transmission of aerosols produced by those not displaying symptoms reinforces these calls. A paper from the end of May 2020 produced collaboratively by the University of California San Diego, and the National Sun Yat-sen University, Taiwan, notes that the virus can remain infectious indoors for hours, and that ‘measures designed to reduce aerosol transmission must be implemented, including universal masking’.
Mr ap Iorwerth said these calls from doctors along with this further scientific basis for encouraging public use of face coverings must be taken into account and acted on by the Welsh Government, alongside a robust testing strategy, to reduce the R-rate in Wales.
Rhun ap Iorwerth Shadow Minister for Health said,
“The Welsh Government must listen to the experts and their calls, and pay close attention to the emerging science and take on board evidence that can help keep people in Wales safe. The case for the universal face coverings in higher risk public spaces, such a supermarkets, is becoming stronger. I believe Welsh Government should respond and adapt their strategy, moving to active encouragement of the use of face coverings.
“That’s why I called on the Health Minister in the Senedd this week to listen to that growing evidence and introduce clear guidelines actively encouraging the use of face covering.
“Given that Welsh Government is rightly taking a cautious approach with lockdown restrictions, here’s another opportunity to keep people safe. If it makes a positive contribution, then why not encourage it?”
Mr ap Iorwerth added that this is something individuals and communities throughout Wales can help with, and asked Ministers to support a Wales-wide mask making initiative:
“Whilst medical face coverings should clearly be prioritised for health and social care professionals, people can make simple face coverings at home. I’ll be actively sharing the large number of online and other tools available for mask-making – a ‘Masg Cymru’ initiative could bring individuals and communities together, and if the evidence is right, could save lives.”