A selection of comments from the Isle of Man Government on wearing masks during the lockdown in the first half of 2020.
I must stress that these quotes come from throughout the period of the first Isle of Man lockdown in the first half of 2020, and are from the period that the Isle of Man Government spread the fake news nonsense that wearing a mask helps to spread the coronavirus. Of course, wearing masks do not spread the disease – they can, in fact, reduce the spread of the disease.
These quotes mostly come from press conferences conducted by the Isle of Man Government, and you can listen to the underlying sources online here. This was transcribed using an automated speech recognition service, and there may be some errors in the transcriptions below.
To the best of my knowledge, no one in the Isle of Man Government has ever been held accountable for the fake news that they spread on this issue.
JOURNALIST: And revisiting another topic is of course, cloth-based masks and we’ve seen the advice in Jersey has changed. This weekend, a Czech Republic, another country that are changing their advice, so we look into review, wearing a face mask while out in public?
ASHFORD: We have reviewed it. We’ve also looked at the recommendations from the World Health Organisation and we are following those. And the World Health Organisation is still quite clear. They reviewed their guidance only very, very recently in the last few days. And it is very clear that there is no benefit to wearing a face mask. Unless, you actually have either have COVID-19 or you are caring for someone who has already been diagnosed for COVID-19. What we’ve got to remember is with face masks as well, they only have any use whatsoever if they are actually applied and removed clinically in a clinical manner. So that means you don’t touch the fabric of the front of the mask, because if you touch the fabric or the front of the mask you’ve potentially contaminated and that you remove it the same way by just the strings and you dispose of it clinically correctly. If anyone isn’t doing that, then the mask is of no use anyway. But one of the interesting things is there is a study that looked at masks and it actually found that people who were wearing masks were more likely to touch their face than people who weren’t, which I found quite an interesting study. But also if you delve down into the details of all the countries, which I think there was about 203 that have had COVID-19 cases, some do have cultures of wearing masks, others don’t. But certainly there seems to be no evidence that wearing masks affects what the human human community transmission rate is. And there seems to be no difference between those cultures where masks are prevalent, and those cultures wear masks aren’t. So it suggests on the raw data, that it doesn’t actually have any effect in terms of community, community person to person transmission.
JOURNALIST: Thank you, and this week in Tynwald, there was a bit of a debate on masks, which a few of our readers have picked up on and certainly questions about where it was pointed towards cheapness to sort of alluded to the idea that there could be a change in policy. And people have obviously seen videos on social media since then about this and see what’s happened in Germany. And they’re just wondering, if we are staying as we are, however, there will be a shift in advice if maybe not policy.
ASHFORD: Right, all advice that we give is constantly under review, as I’ve emphasised, many times things change on a daily basis. In relation to masks, the only change of advice I would imagine at this stage would be likely to say that for those there is there was certainly no evidence from emerging around the world that masks benefit the web in public. And that there you know, even Germany and other countries that have gone down this route, have actually put into their advice, that it doesn’t protect the wherever. There is some slight scientific evidence around the world that if someone is asymptomatic, it may protect it. from spreading around, but equally, there’s other studies. So for instance, there’s been a very recent study by Dr. Russo in the US who is an international expert on respiratory protection, who actually from his analysis said that even in relation to people wearing the mask it may not protect, because in his words, sweeping mask recommendations will not reduce COVID-19 transmission, as evidenced by the widespread practice of wearing such masks in and I apologise if I mispronounce this, Hubei Province, China, before and during its mass COVID-19 experiment experience earlier this year. And there’s various other studies out there as well, that have actually said that because of the type of masks people wear in public, the cloth masks and it doesn’t they’re not air tight, so particles will continue. There was one study I know of that actually said it’s those masks still allow 98% of airflow around. And so it is a very mixed picture. And you mentioned Germany. One of the things I need to emphasise about Germany is they have not gone despite the way some of the international media has portrayed us for a complete mandatory mass squaring, as has been suggested, they’ve gone for mandatory mask wearing on their tube. But then after that the advice differs by state within Germany, because Germany is a federal system. Some have mandated it for wearing it in supermarkets, or the states within Germany completely disagree with that advice. And their public health has turned around and said, No, we won’t be doing that. And in fact, there was one state, which I did have in front of me, but I’ve managed to lose that actually wasn’t even wanting to mandate it on the tube. Because they said it wouldn’t have any effect, but decided to fall in line because all the other states had. So they said it would cause too many difficulties if people were passing through different jurisdictions. So there is an absolute mix. Have messages out there. And we’ve got some countries that were held up as examples of mass squaring how it slowed the transmission of the virus. Two of those in Japan and the Czech Republic, who have now started to see exponential growth in their cases. The Czech Republic, for instance, brought in mask wearing on the 18th of March, where it became mandatory to wear it in public. And since then their growth rates continued. So they brought it in on the 18th of March the week after they implemented that their cases rose from 522 to 1650. For the following week, they went up to 3598, the week after to 5312 and as of today, I believe they now stand a week later at 7188. So the despite the mass squaring they are still seeing exponential growth. and Japan is starting to see that in some of its figures as well along with Singapore. So I think you know when it comes to mass squaring we Do continuously look at our data, public health and our clinical leadership body will advise, but I would expect that any change would be more more suggestive than actually mandate and mass squaring.
QUAYLE: One debate that has caused a great deal of emotion is masks. Before we go to questions, I wanted to share our latest thinking. The Health and Social Care Minister has replied to questions on masks here on a number of occasions. The global expert advice on the benefits of masks has been constantly evolving, there is still no global consensus. Much of the coverage in the media, and especially the debate on social media has been complicated by the range of masks discussed, from the advanced masks that are used by medical professionals in direct contact with known COVID cases, to a simple bandana or other homemade masks.
The Council of Ministers has been following this debate carefully. And this morning considered a paper prepared by our public health experts and agreed by our clinical leadership team. We asked them to produce advice for the use of masks on the Isle of Man. As we have said before, we wanted advice specific to our main situation, so that we could make makes decisions. We do not have some of the pressures of some large developed countries We do not have the mass public transport systems of some, we do not have the densities of population of others. We will be publishing detailed guidance shortly. But I would like to give you some headlines now. Firstly, it’s important to emphasise that with this updated guidance, the wearing of masks remains a matter of personal choice. We are not mandating the use of masks when within our community. Secondly, social distancing, hand washing and other hygiene measures continue to be the best steps we can all take. Thirdly, there is insufficient scientific evidence that masks are effective in protecting the wearer. There is some limited scientific evidence that where social distancing is impossible. the wearing of masks by someone who has slight or no symptoms may protect others.
JOURNALIST: Thank you Minister, and today Downing Street have issued a statement saying face mask of a week but positive effects in reducing transmission. We know it’s an individual’s choice here on the islands. But couldn’t the government be encouraging wearing face mask more if it does have a positive effect?
ASHFORD: Well, I think what you’ll find with the UK advice is that actually sticks with what it says which is there is limited scientific advice in this regard, that it states that it’s not a benefit to the wearer, but it has limited science that says that it may prevent those who asymptomatic at a low level from passing on the virus. But my understanding is the advice has come out of the UK, then a few days behind us, because the advice we change to unpublish the other day, is exactly what they’ve gone for where they’re basically still saying it’s individual choice. They’re not mandating it for certainly from the the news story I saw earlier, that actually following what we issued on I lose track of the days now, but I think it was Tuesday.
JOURNALIST: Yeah, but the point I was really trying to get across really was it was a positive effect. It shouldn’t be encouraging it more than just saying it’s your choice.
ASHFORD: Well, no, because again, the scientific evidence is exceptionally limited, about how much affect wearing face masks actually does have any effect. You know, so no, we’re saying it’s individual choice. And if people wish to wear masks, then they can do so. We’ve given a guide to people if they want to make their home their own masks, but we are not going to mandate it. Like I say that is the position the UK is now caught up with.
JOURNALIST: Would you recommend these people to maybe bring their own masks or gloves Do you think that would help in any way? I mean, I’ve proposed about a business supplying respirator face mask for kin therapy patients does that.
ASHFORD: Personally, I wouldn’t recommend it as such. Because let’s not forget with masks and gloves unless you apply them properly, and you know how to dispose them properly. It’s actually a way of transmitting the virus, if you’re not doing things correctly, and but what I would actually say is if that if people feel comfortable with that, if that’s their choice, and it makes them feel more comfortable about going into that setting, there’s nothing to stop them doing so. And, you know, you know, it’s about if that gives them comfort, but it’s not going to be a recommendation.