Covid: Health experts recommend wearing masks as thousands are ‘shedding the virus’

Dr Amir discusses best face masks

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In the light of all Covid restrictions being eased in the UK, the country is also seeing a boom in cases. The number of new infections dropped below 75,000 yesterday – a decline compared to last week – but the head of UKHSA, Dame Jenny Harries, said to keep wearing a mask.

Although the official requirement to wear a mask was scrapped in January, Harries recommended to bring the habit back during times when infection rates are high.

She said that people should be “very sensible and take precautions in periods of high prevalence – as we have now”.

This comes as the national free Covid testing ends today.

The recent spikes in cases were attributed to the government getting rid of restrictions as well as the more infectious Omicron strain roaming through the country.

Dr Richard Dawood, medical director of the Fleet Street Clinic, told why you might not want to ditch your mask right now.

He said: “With Omicron, more people seem to experience milder symptoms, if any at all.

“Instead of being ill at home, or isolating, more people shedding the virus are therefore likely to be going about their normal activities, and it is much easier to become exposed to them, which explains the current high rate of spread.

“So, the usual measures we all know about are likely to be much more protective and relevant than previously – especially things like mask wearing and hand washing.”

As self-isolation after testing positive for Covid is no longer legally required, many people now leave their houses when suffering from the virus.

The Office for National Statistics reported that only 64 percent of people with Covid continue to quarantine after the restrictions drop.

This data looked at 1,369 people, with only 876 reporting to self-isolate.

The NHS still encourages people to stay at home and avoid contact with others if infected.

What mask should I wear?

If you wish to keep your mask, health experts suggest you should choose the ones that offer the highest levels of protection.

Dr Dawood said: “Instead of simply wearing a cloth face covering, or even a surgical mask, I would definitely consider wearing a high filtration (FFP3) mask in higher-risk situations.

“Particularly, for example, during air travel, now that the requirement for pre-travel testing is being removed.”

Another face mask he recommended is the N95.

Do masks really offer protection from Covid?

Research has proved that masks can filter out respiratory droplets and particles, which protects the wearer and others.

This is meaningful as Covid is airborne and spreads through droplets and particles released to the air when coughing, sneezing or speaking.

However, research also stresses that the most effective, certified masks include FFP2 or N95 masks.

They are able to filter out between 94 to 98 percent of aerosols, including airborne viruses like coronavirus.

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