Infectologist: Distancing is a stronger weapon against COVID-19 than masks

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Masks are a helpful tool to help fight COVID-19 spread, but the main condition is distancing, Uga Dumpis, Health Ministry's chief infectologist, told Latvian Television October 13.

Dumpis said he had been skeptical towards use of masks in the spring and his position has still not changed. It is known that the spread can occur through singing or speaking, so "we wear the mask not to infect others and masks must be worn when the spread is prevalent and we are close to one another," said Dumpis.

He recalled that in March and April, he was the one who urged the introduction of masks in hospitals for both patients and doctors. “I don't think anything has changed significantly, masks have to be used where the spread of the virus is uncontrolled or people come closer to one another than 2 meters,” the infectologist said.

He said that he understood the decision to impose mandatory use of masks in public places, because it is difficult to distinguish between a small rural store and a supermarket, it is impossible to distinguish between situations where risks are higher and where less, so a decision has been taken that covers all situations.

He said masks are a “evidence-based aid” but they won't guarantee that our economy will be able to develop and we will have a safer life, “because distancing is the basis of everything” — masks are an assistant, based on distancing.

He also explained that we are now seeing the first wave of COVID-19, which is continuing because restrictions have been lifted and the virus is returning.

Proactive measures paid off in the spring and also should pay off now, we saw how it happened in Kuldīga and Daugavpils, where restrictions were imposed and the indicators improved, there are no catastrophic outbreaks, said Dumpis.

As of October 14, face masks are mandatory in all public places in Latvia.

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