‘Ventilation needs to be the key public message’

Tony Cowling believes 'ventilate, cover face, space' should be the key coronavirus message. Picture: Orna Wachman from Pixabay

HANDS, FACE, space isn’t enough to stop coronavirus, says a Sonning resident.

Tony Cowling, whose son Dr Ben Cowling studies the spread of disease at The World Health Organisation, is encouraging people to think about ventilation and why it might be the key to halting the spread of Covid-19.

“The idea that it’s safe to be two metres away from someone with a mask on is complete nonsense because it depends on how much ventilation there is and how long you’re with them,” he said.

“The focus on symptoms alone is dangerous because people can pass Covid-19 on without symptoms or can be pre-symptomatic but still infectious.”

According to Mr Cowling, the risk of catching the virus in an indoor space is greatly reduced when windows are open and air is able to circulate.

And he believes that if we continue to follow the current guidelines of hands, face, space, the number of coronavirus cases in Wokingham borough could rise to levels seen in the north of England.

“Some local schools are ventilating by opening windows and Reading Buses is doing the same, but I’m worried about the councils because they’re not saying anything about ventilation and are meant to be looking after us,” he added.

Mr Cowling is now calling on the council to change its Covid-19 messaging to encourage residents to ventilate spaces when meeting with those outside of their household.

“Wokingham Borough Council needs to stop patting itself on the back and start thinking about the tens of thousands of people who are dying. We aren’t isolating people who are positive, we just tell them to isolate and it’s not enough,” he said.

Wokingham Borough Council is currently advising residents to keep their distance from anybody outside of their household, regularly wash their hands and face, avoid crowds and keep indoor places well ventilated.

But Mr Cowling wants ventilation to be the council’s key message.

“Ventilate needs to be the first message to people. The council should be saying ventilate, cover face, space rather than hands, face, space.

“Following the party line is just getting us in trouble.

“Lockdown has saved our bacon now but ventilation needs to be there in future communication,” he said.

Cllr Charles Margetts, executive member for health at Wokingham Borough Council said that ventilation is one of many factors that should be considered to stop the spread of Covid-19.

“It makes common, logical sense that spaces should be well ventilated to allow the air to travel through,” he said. “But we have to follow the national advice. Hands and face are also conducive to spreading the virus. They are all important — it’s about doing everything you can in every scenario.”

To see Wokingham Borough’s Council advice on staying safe during the pandemic, visit: www.wokingham.gov.uk/health/public-health-campaigns/coronavirus

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