Experts in America and Europe are discussing the possibility of bringing back face masks as countries go through a ‘tripledemic’ of Covid-19, influenza and the respiratory syncytial virus(RSV).
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The move has been prompted by rising admissions for respiratory infections, including flu and Covid-19,pushing some healthcare systems close to the brink of collapse, as per The New York Times.
Several cities and counties, including New York City and Los Angeles County, have already started encouraging people to wear a mask in indoor public spaces once again.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that there have already been 13 million cases of flu resulting in 7,300 deaths this season and the numbers are going up. Covid-19 case rates and hospitalizations have also increased significantly over the last two weeks and whilst RSV cases have gone down the number of infections are still high, as per The New York Times.
The CDC advises wearing a mask on a county-by-county basisdepending on community Covid-19 levels, however the CDC director, Rochelle Walensky said,
You don’t need to wait for the CDC’s recommendation, certainly, to wear a mask.
UK & Europe
In its latest report, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) observed that several countries had been experiencing unusually early increases in RSV cases along with a spike in Covi-19 and influenza. A joint statement by the ECDC, European Commission and World Health Organization said, as per The Guardian:
With the continued impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the circulation and health impact of other respiratory pathogens, it is challenging to predict how the new winter period will develop.
Advice on staying safe
Whilst there is no obligation to wear a mask currently in the UK, guidance is provided on the government website on how to help reduce the spread of Covid-19 and other respiratory infections by wearing a face covering:
- when you are coming into close contact with someone at higher risk of becoming seriously unwell from COVID-19 or other respiratory infections
- when COVID-19 rates are high and you will be in close contact with other people, such as in crowded and enclosed spaces
- when there are a lot of respiratory viruses circulating, such as in winter, and you will be in close contact with other people in crowded and enclosed spaces.
- The New York Times 'It’s Time to Wear a Mask Again, Health Experts Say'
- The Guardian 'Race to control ‘tripledemic’ as cases of RSV in children sweep US and Europe'