Health bosses warn “no mask” policy could be a setback

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HEALTHCARE bosses warn that the “no mask” policy could ignite a “setback” to the start of the pandemic as the virus was first transmitted by air travel.

The British healthcare and testing company that provides rapid PCR testing for airline passengers at Liverpool John Lennon Airport has today warned that a ‘no mask’ policy for air travel could ignite a ‘set-back’ for the airline and travel industry. 

Salutaris People warned that it was too early for airline passengers to be able to travel mask-free while the UK was still at the height of its vaccination programme, with a further 23 million people still not vaccinated.

BEN PAGLIA AKEA LIFE - Health News Scotland
Photo by AKEA LIFE. Ben Paglia MD (above) of AKEA Life is the clinical testing partner to Salutaris People.

Ben Paglia said: “Until we have a UK and global programme of vaccination in full flow, whereby a person has had two doses of a vaccination, then airline passengers should be advised to wear a mask during their transit and flight.

“It is a very dangerous and reckless precedent to allow a plane full of passengers to travel without face masks or coverings.

“Despite the amazing success of the vaccine, we do know that you can still catch Covid and infect other people.

“As there are still around 23 million people in the UK to be vaccinated, this presents a continued major health problem in the UK, as it affects the younger population.

“We also don’t know the longer-term effectiveness of the vaccines yet and how long vaccine immunity could provide protection for.

“Allowing passengers to travel without wearing masks could potentially set us back to the start of the pandemic when all air travel was banned.

“It would be sensible to allow people to not wear face masks in certain settings, but where you have public transport and air travel, or confined spaces and large gatherings it is wise to help reduce infections and transmission of the virus.”

ROSS TOMKINS SALUTARIS - Health News Scotland
Photo by SALUTARIS. The Delta variant continues to dominate infection rates, with infections doubling in cities and counties across the UK.

Newcastle Upon Tyne, Dundee, Suffolk, and Essex have all reported significant increases in their infection rates.

Dr Brendan Payne, Consultant Virologist & Infectious Diseases Physician to AKEA Life, said: “I think the ‘personal choice’ concept of wearing a face mask makes no sense from a public health perspective.

“Standard face masks mainly protect other people from the wearer, rather than the wearer from other people.

“Therefore, you are actually asking that people make a personal choice on behalf of other people!

“I certainly think it is wise for airline passengers to continue wearing masks for air travel for the foreseeable future until we have a fully effective global vaccination programme covered.

“Not only would this be for their own safety and peace of mind, but also for being considerate to other passengers.

“When you have several hundred people on an aircraft, closely seated in confined spaces, some of whom have been vaccinated and others not, it is entirely sensible to maintain a cautious approach by wearing masks.

“Personally, I would have liked to see guidance from the UK Government that at least you continue to wear a mask until you’ve had two doses of vaccine.

“This is similar to what the CDC (Centre For Disease Control) are stating in the US. It is impossible to enforce, but would have been a sensible message.”