“In a situation like the current one, attenuating the obligation to wear a mask seems a gamble to me”, it is not in favor of lowering one’s guard Paolo Villani, professor of hygiene and director of the department of public health and infectious diseases at Sapienza.
However, the possibility of contagion in open spaces is reduced and some states have already taken this path. Stay firm on the no?
“It is true, the chances of getting infected are infinitely less than in closed places and this is amply demonstrated although it is not possible to quantify exactly how much the risk drops. It depends on what are the open spaces and the level of circulation of the virus ».
Give an example.
«Are you on the beach and are the umbrellas far from the sunbed you occupy? Ok, you can relax. To be infected, it is necessary to have on average a close contact with an infected person for at least 15 minutes’.
“On any outdoor occasion you may have to wear the mask even if it was not planned. When you are in line for an ice cream, or for a theatrical show or to get the vaccine in a hub. Moral: the mask cannot and must not be forgotten, it should continue to be seen as a object to carry around automatically, when we leave the house as we will never have the certainty of not running into a crowd in which it will be necessary to wear it ».
As a hygiene expert, would you have taken time to introduce new rules?
“Yes, if this choice was made to instill confidence in the Italians, there was no need. The trust is already there, given all the reopening. Removing the mask does not increase the economy, it does not have an economic impact. Keeping it in the face is just a nuisance, in my opinion bearable compared to its great usefulness ».
Does your caution depend on observing what is happening in the UK?
«That’s right, it takes a moment for the infections to rise thanks to the new Delta variant. I understand taking a risk to reopen schools, universities, museums, cultural activities that have a very high social value. But throwing the mask in the bucket just because it is a nuisance is a waste ».
“It took a long time to instill these simple and highly effective rules: nose and mouth protection, spacing, hand cleaning. Now it is a shame not to go ahead and brand the mask with a negative value while it is a precious defense not only against Covid-19»
What other positive function did it play?
“Respiratory infections have collapsed: no more flu, measles disappeared, not only in Italy. In 2017 we had 5,397 people between adults and children. In 2018 the cases fell to 2,681, in 2019 they were 1,627, in 2020 they were 103, all concentrated in the first quarter because then the use of the mask has spread more and more and goodbye measles (here read news on the introduction of the obligation vaccination) ‘.
«We are talking about the most contagious respiratory disease, much more than Sars-CoV-2. Its Rt, reproduction index, is equal to 12-14. One infected infects 12-14 people. I also report these data to you as chairman of the national commission for verifying the elimination of measles and rubella, set up as part of a world program.
What do you advise?
“Even when the obligation falls, always carry the mask in your pocket, wear it if there is a minimum crowd, remember that indoors it is always mandatory except at home. Don’t think it’s no longer necessary. Keep a supply. Let’s keep at least the virtuous behaviors from the past ».
June 21, 2021 (change June 21, 2021 | 21:47)
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