Hands, face, space? Johnson’s Covid Message Has Wrong Priorities, Scientists Warn | Coronavirus epidemic

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The latest effort to help stop the spread of Covid-19 has been criticized by seasoned scientists for not emphasizing enough ventilation issues and the need to stay away from others.

They say the government’s “hands, face, space” campaign emphasizes handwashing and wearing masks as key factors in controlling coronavirus transmission, while the need to stay on track gap has been minimized, although this is the only critical factor involved in the spread of Covid -19.

“As long as people continue to focus on handwashing rather than transmission by aerosol and ventilation, you are not going to control this pandemic,” said virologist Julian Tang, of the Leicester Royal Infirmary. Observer.

He pointed to studies that suggest contact is the cause of transmission of the Covid-19 virus in only about 20% of cases, while aerosol transmission, often in poorly ventilated rooms, accounted for the rest.

He was supported by anthropologist Jennifer Cole, of the Royal Holloway, University of London, who said the government’s recommendations were put out of order.

“Space is the most important mitigating factor in the spread of Covid-19, indoors and out. Wearing a face mask does not allow you to move within 2 meters of others in complete safety; keeping your distance is the best strategy, ”she said. “Hand washing is important, but surface transmission plays a much less important role than exhaled droplets, so it’s strange that ‘hands’ were listed first.”

Cole said this focus could lead to unnecessary concerns about the likelihood of surface transmission from groceries, mail and other deliveries. At the same time, physical distance was sometimes difficult in an indoor environment, she acknowledged. If so, people just shouldn’t come in. “They shouldn’t just assume that covering their face and washing their hands will protect them if they do.”

This point was also made by Tang. “The only thing that really works against this disease is to stay away from others. The problem is that when a situation seems worrying, for example in public transport, you can step up your precautions.

“The problem comes when you relax – for example in the pub – and you don’t keep your distance and your friends are screaming loudly to be heard and the virus is spread. That’s why we have epidemics – because people don’t keep their distance and don’t enforce the rules like they might elsewhere.

The failure to highlight the critical importance of aerosol transmission was highlighted in a letter to the World Health Organization, signed by several hundred scientists earlier this year. “Current guidelines from many international and national agencies focus on handwashing, social distancing, and droplet precautions, but… do not recognize airborne transmission except for aerosol-generating procedures in health facilities. health.

“Hand washing and social distancing are appropriate, but in our opinion insufficient to provide protection against respiratory microdroplets carrying viruses released into the air by infected people,” the letter reads.

The WHO originally placed little emphasis on aerosol transmission, Tang said, but changed its guidelines in July in response to the letter and now recognizes its importance, especially in poorly ventilated spaces.

“Unfortunately, people still don’t get the message – that’s why they got this message hand, face, space the wrong way round. It should be space first – and by a long stretch. Then think about your hands and your face. Until we are right, we will continue to be in trouble. “

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