Dr Amir discusses best face masks
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BA.4 and BA.5 are the strains associated with the Omicron variant that appeared last winter. These two new subvariants are thought to be more transmissible as well as able to evade the immune protection from vaccines and previous infections. This has prompted some hospitals to bring back face masks.
Whether you ditched your mask or kept it shut in a drawer, face coverings made an exit at the beginning of this year.
While some people kept wearing a mask as a personal choice, the law no longer requires a face covering.
However, the recent surge in cases has made some hospitals re-evaluate their mask policy.
Although face coverings are not enforceable by law, certain hospitals are now making them mandatory.
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Hospitals in Hampshire, Wales, Cambridge and Cornwall have introduced mandatory masks for patients, staff and visitors, according to The Times.
In Wales, three of the seven health boards have brought masks back, the BBC reports.
Withybush Hospital in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, has even banned visitors apart from those seeing patients in end-of-life care.
These changes have been made based on the “increasing prevalence of COVID-19” at the site.
Professor Sir Andrew Pollard, Director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, shared that bringing masks back to hospitals was “very sensible”.
Speaking on BBC Radios 4’s Today programme, he said: “Because there is so much [Covid] out in our community, anything we can do in our hospitals to reduce the potential for outbreaks on wards makes sense.
“There are an extraordinary number of cases at the moment.
“But when we look at a global perspective, the number of deaths per day is the lowest it’s been in the last 18 months.
“Similarly in the UK, the deaths remain at a very low rate.”
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Are face masks really effective?
Research has shown that masks are able to filter out respiratory droplets and particles, protecting the wearer and others.
And Covid is an airborne virus that spreads through droplets and particles released into the air when coughing, sneezing or speaking.
However, evidence also stresses that not all masks offer the same level of protection.
Research recommends certified masks, such as FFP2 or N95 masks. These types are able to filter out between 94 to 98 percent of aerosols, including airborne viruses like coronavirus.
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