The Jewish Chronicle
Enjoy life safely: ‘Hands, Face, Space and fresh air’
WHILE COVID-19 deaths have reduced and the vaccine rollout continues, we still need to remain vigilant, as the virus is still circulating in communities and affecting people of all ages across the UK. Around one in three people who have the virus have no symptoms and can spread it without knowing. We’re now allowed to see friends and relatives in groups of six. But this could cause an increase in Covid-19 cases, so we need to lower the risk by washing our hands, wearing face coverings, keeping our distance — and meeting outdoors, where the fresh air disperses Covid-19 particles.
Dr Shaun Fitzgerald is director, Centre for Climate Repair at Cambridge, fellow of engineering at Girton College, Cambridge and a member of Sage. An air-flow expert, he says: “When you are outdoors — especially if you are 2m+ away from somebody — the level of concentration of any virus that might be in your vicinity... is so much lower. The amount of outdoor air that’s going to be sweeping away any virus that is being emanated from that person is enormous.”
Prof Fitzgerald urges us to continue the selfless behaviour we have shown previously: “It’s about thinking of others,” he says. This responsibility continues even when vaccinated, he adds, as although the risks of catching or transmitting Covid-19 may be lower, they are never zero.
Professor Tim Sharpe, head of department, architecture at the University of Strathclyde and a member of Sage, says: “We’ve heard from a study done in Japan that you could be 18, 20 times less likely to catch [Covid-19] outside. A Chinese study found only one out of hundreds [of cases of infection] that was outside and that was two people sitting together for a long time facing each other.”
Professor Brooke Rogers is Professor of Behaviour Science and Security at King’s College London. She says: “It’s about just recognising that there are three main pathways to transmission. So that’s breathing in droplets from someone else who has Covid-19 and that requires close contact; touching the surfaces that the droplets have landed on and have been contaminated by an infected person; and also breathing in the air that carries the aerosols for the virus.” If you are planning a meetup, Prof Rogers suggests having an honest discussion in advance about Hands, Face, Space, fresh air, to avoid awkwardness on the day. And don’t keep seeing different groups of six. “Keep your interactions as contained and as close of a group as you possibly can,” she says. A hybrid social life might work best for now, with some virtual and some in-person meeting.
“I quite often look at the pandemic as a marathon,” reflects Prof Rogers. “If you go to watch a marathon, they have stations where they give people refreshment and sustenance to get through. So you need the mindset that this is a long run, and that we are going through certain stages... I feel like if we squint, you know, we can see the crowds gathering at the finish line and they will be allowed to gather at that finish line, because the finish line means that we can all be together again — but we still have a way to go.”