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Wearing a facemask when shopping

(98 Posts)
Cam77 Thu 26-Mar-20 09:37:55

I have seen a few people do this. I know the advice is not to do it (or that it is unnecessary), but having spent the morning researching this, I believe the advice is not really "based on the science" but rather social, political, economic factors have been pushed to the fore. I'll start with this, which is typical of advice we've been given the past month and IMO perfectly supports the case for wearing facemasks in certain situations (even though its trying to do the very opposite):

The lady in the video, like most other health experts in the West (note not in the rest of the world) is advocating against the use of facemasks for the general public when out and about. For me the key sentence is this: (50 seconds in).
"But logically, if you're not close to other people, they're not coughing and sneezing on you, then a facemask isn't necessary"

I have heard variations of this a hundred times. "Facemasks probably aren't very useful". "They will only be of very little use" "Some people won't dispose of them correctly" etc.

Problem - in certain situations, eg shopping, people are close to you. Either through lack of care (often) or sometimes unavoidably, people are often not adhering to the 2 metre guidelines. Therefore there is a significance chance of people encroaching close to you (have found this often). And then there is a chance (although small) of a sudden cough or sneeze. Is that person infected? You don't know because symptoms can take quite a few days to emerge.

The above is of course why they are/were being worn in this crisis by billions of people outside of the West, often under threat of official sanction for not doing so (not to mention social disapproval). The argument against use of facemasks for, eg supermarket shopping, is not "the science" it is Western societies partial/modified application of "the science".

Of course I get the argument about healthcare workers being priorities (if only the government had given a damn about the NHS prior to the beginning of the crisis). However, one person from a family wearing a mask once a week for an unavoidable, often crowded, supermarket trip in which two metres distancing cannot always be adhered to? Maybe this would have been the more responsible action and advice?

Further reading:
"Why Telling People they don't need facemasks backfired"

"Why some countries wear facemasks and others don't"

Goingmadathome Thu 26-Mar-20 09:40:56

I'm genuinely curious about this.
I heard it could be spread by just talking by one expert. I have no idea what distance but surely as soon as you go to a local shop you could be potentially affected just at the counter seeing hundreds of other people have been in store too.

NotEverythingIsBlackandwhite Thu 26-Mar-20 09:47:25

I've read up on them too and I feel the advice is more do that people don't wear inadequate masks (and to save them for medics too).

A relative has an Outpatients appointment soon and so I have ordered N95 respirator masks as I don't want them or me, as their carer, to catch anything from the HCP performing the scan. We will only put them on when entering the hospital and remove them when back at home.

If our orifices are covered then we cannot ingest any droplets containing CV.

Cam77 Thu 26-Mar-20 09:59:11

I understand the government advice was more along the lines of:
"we (similar to most governments) are woefully underprepared. As there are not nearly enough masks to go round we recommend you don't wear them, not even when in crowded indoor places - and anyway, only a small proportion of cases will be via air transmission (via cough sneeze shouting etc) when out in public"
That would have been honest, but it sounds kind of bad...

Duchessofblandings Thu 26-Mar-20 10:02:13

As I understand it, wearing a mask won’t do very much to prevent you from contracting the virus but could prevent you passing it on? No idea how that works though.

Cam77 Thu 26-Mar-20 10:02:56

Well, that advice is what we are discussing.

Cam77 Thu 26-Mar-20 10:03:01

Wouldn't be so much of an issue, but some people are so
lackadaisical about keeping two metres. The number of people in supermarkets who just walk straight on virtually brushing clothes when they could just be patient and wait literally one second for space to appear.

clareOclareO Thu 26-Mar-20 10:03:22

One of the reasons for not wearing them that I read was "people who wear face masks will stop washing their hands" - I think this is nonsense. People who wear masks are probably more aware of the need for hygiene at this time than those that don't.

Unless the science proves that wearing a mask is less safe than not, I think we should all wear them.

Cam77 Thu 26-Mar-20 10:06:20

And given that there could be a million unaware infected people in the country right now, wearing it just to stop spreading it (as opposed to personal protection), could save lives. It just a theoretical discussion I guess, because similar to many other European governments, the UK government was woefully underprepared for such a crisis.

HasaDigaEebowai Thu 26-Mar-20 10:07:44

I'm wearing a mask if we have to go out (which will be extremely infrequently)

I agree entirely that the science clearly shows that they do help. If we have them then we should use them. If we don't then we shouldn't be trying to buy up stock that is in short supply and needed by the NHS.

I bought mine months ago and have offered my spares to the NHS. I'm keeping a couple for each of us though.

Cam77 Thu 26-Mar-20 10:08:08

Agree, but unfortunately, weirdly, some people in Europe are outright hostile to people wearing them in a crowded supermarket - even though they could be saving lives by doing so.

Cam77 Thu 26-Mar-20 10:12:47

Yes, that is sensible. I also got a couple of dozen for emergencies a couple of months ago when it hit China.

LonginesPrime Thu 26-Mar-20 10:18:21

some people in Europe are outright hostile to people wearing them in a crowded supermarket

I think a lot of people assume mask = infected instead of understanding that the person might be living with someone who's vulnerable or might be worried about catching something themselves.

I've always taken the message of 'there is no proof masks work' to mean 'we don't have enough for the NHS, let alone for all the individuals who will buy them all up if we tell you they're a good idea'.

BodiesMakeForGoodFertiliser Thu 26-Mar-20 10:19:41

Virologist in one country with mandatory face masks said they did help to slow the spread.
They stop the wearer spreading it rather than the other way around apparently. Considering how many people don't show symptoms it I think we all should wear them. If 1 in 100 wears a mask, it doesn't do much. If 100 out of 100 do...

Miriel Thu 26-Mar-20 10:22:17

I'm wearing one when shopping. I live in a big city, the supermarkets are busy. I last went shopping on Friday and saw about ten other people wearing them.

They don't make it impossible for someone to catch the virus. They do decrease the probability of it, and so I think it's worth wearing them if you have them. I have a few for myself, and more that I can give out to family or neighbours if they decide they want to wear them.

The reasons for not wearing them seem to be that they're not 100% effective, that they'll make people complacent, and that most people don't know how to wear one correctly, or how to handle it when taking it off. None of which seem convincing to me. It'd be easy to make a mask-wearing instructional video like all the hand-washing ones out there, partial protection is better than nothing, and the people concerned enough to get masks aren't the complacent ones.

wowfudge Thu 26-Mar-20 10:23:52

Is there also perhaps a risk of complacency? A mask wearer might not be so careful to keep their distance. We didn't put hand sanitiser in toilets at work on the basis there was soap, hot water and paper towels and we didn't want people to think hand sanitiser was a substitute for proper hand washing in the toilets.

minisoksmakehardwork Thu 26-Mar-20 10:29:35

If you are able to order N95 masks, please, please point your local hospitals, care homes and prisons in the direction of the suppliers who have them. DH's work is down to 4 disposable face masks and they have their first confirmed case now. they desperately need decent kit rather than crappy thin things when they have a poorly resident coughing and spluttering all over them.

Butwhhhyyyyyyy Thu 26-Mar-20 10:29:53

I wore one to go to my local farm shop for 10 mins as I'm in the extremely vulnerable group, 1st time out in a week, people milling around with young kids and dogs looking at me like I was a lunatic, I felt safer though and still washed my hands.

Youcunnyfunt Thu 26-Mar-20 10:32:05

Worn and used properly, effective masks apparently decrease the amount of contagions by 75%, by filtering the air. And of course, if you have anything, you are reducing the chances of other people catching something from you.

Youcunnyfunt Thu 26-Mar-20 10:33:18

Now you don't have to buy them and can leave the surgical masks for the drs that need them...

BodiesMakeForGoodFertiliser Thu 26-Mar-20 10:34:55

@minisoksmakehardwork I don't think anyone can get N95s now. It may sound funny, but there was a repurposing of diving masks in Czech for doctors and some tech enthusiast group managed to add filters.
They (as in absolutely everyone who could) also sew and donated to hospitals and everywhere double layer 100% cotton masks with pocket for a changeable filter. You know how shops sold out of freezers here? In there they sold out of sewing machines. Not even joking.
Needs must...

RingaRosie Thu 26-Mar-20 10:35:09

I have some light masks, the sort you wear while painting / DIY. I’m just using them when in the local shop, covered by a silk scarf. Makes me feel better, but I know nothing about the science... Same with glove wearing.

Cam77 Thu 26-Mar-20 10:43:43

I think N95 are almost impossible to come by unforutnately. However, there is research which suggests even handmade masks may be better at preventing spread than no mask at all as along as worn with all the other advice (safe distancing, handwashing, etc) in mind. The government's advocacy against general facemask use by general public doesn't stand up to much scrutiny.

SerendipitySunshine Thu 26-Mar-20 10:48:39

Even if it just stops me passing it on (I don't think I have it but just in case) rather than stopping me catching it, then I'd rather wear a mask. I'll still wash my hands too! What type should I buy?

lettersbyowl Thu 26-Mar-20 10:52:29

I've got to be honest, seeing people in face
masks in the supermarket added to the sense of terror for me. People in them were quite aggressive in terms of pushing past people and how they moved through the shop. Presumably because they felt protected? I don't think it's helpful. Keep your distance, wash your hands, don't touch your face and be respectful of others trying to maintain their space too.

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