‘I protect you and you protect me’ - Norfolk GP joins calls for public to wear face masks
PUBLISHED: 06:30 26 April 2020 | UPDATED: 09:17 26 April 2020
A Norfolk GP has joined doctors across the country in calling on the government to implement a policy that will see the public wearing face masks.
Pallavi Devulapalli, a GP in Downham Market, co-signed a letter to The Times asking why the country is “prevaricating over face masks.”
The letter, which was backed by more than 50 doctors across the country, said they were “increasingly alarmed at official inaction over the public wearing face masks.” It called on the government to “urgently” implement a policy that will see people wearing them, to “reduce transmission of Covid-19.”
The letter said: “Official UK policy is contradictory and illogical.
“The latest Public Health England (PHE) policy on personal protective equipment (PPE) states that people should wear masks ‘in clinical areas, communal waiting areas and transportation to minimise the dispersal of respiratory secretions, and reduce both direct transmission risk and environmental contamination.
“Surely this reduction of transmission does not cease at the hospital front door?”
It claims that introducing such measures could “be a significant addition in the fight against this dreadful virus.”
Dr Devulapalli said ongoing evidence suggests the “best option for the public” is to wear them. She said: “It would be effective from spreading it, if everyone wears a face mask it will be the case of ‘I protect you and you protect me.’
“We know that face masks are not enough to stop it, but it is important and will go some way in helping.”
She added that “proper viral grade masks” are in short supply in the UK and that surgical face masks supplied to GP surgeries are “reasonably good” but “will not stop viruses getting through.”
According to the GP, panic surrounding the virus is still relatively high in her community.
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She said: “We’re dealing with it the best we can, there is worry for us and our patients. “We saw a lot of anxiety a week or two ago but now people are checking with us. “A lot of people are scared to come in and I think logically so, people should be. I’m glad people are worried in that sense as it shows they’re taking it seriously.”
It comes after the NHS Norfolk and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group announced they will be opening a community testing centre in King’s Lynn this week in a move to increase coronavirus testing for key workers.
The group said it would “complement the drive-through community sites at Norwich and in Great Yarmouth and Waveney”.
“In addition there is testing already in operation for patients and hospital staff within hospitals,” they added.
“There has been testing of care home staff ‘on request’ since last week. Care homes are now being written to with information on how to refer staff in for testing.”
In response to the move, Dr Devulappali said: “I think it’s highly desirable, at the moment people are being asked to go to Norwich for check-ups. “It’s not acceptable for people to be driving 40 miles or so when they’re not feeling well. “I feel very sorry for care workers, my heart goes out to them. I feel like they’ve been forgotten. “Care workers need to be prioritised and a lot more needs to be done to support them.”
She said despite the ongoing concerns it was “heart-warming” to see communities coming together during this difficult time.
The GP, who lives in Shouldham, has been volunteering as part of the Shouldham Emergency Contingency team (SECT) to help the vulnerable.
Set up by Shouldham parish council, the team have been shopping and collecting prescriptions for villagers who are unable to due to self-isolation.
Dr Devulapalli said: “The community spirit has been truly phenomenal.
“I would like to say thank you to the public, people have been fantastic. They’ve been sensible and taken the message on board. “The clapping for carers has been really heart-warming. “Thank you and keep up the spirit. Keep up the hard work, so we can all come out of this together and stronger.”
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