A leading expert from the University of Oxford said that runners should wear face masks when jogging in busy public places.
An expert in primary health care at the said university, Professor Trish Greenhalgh, said that runners who puff and pant when running should wear face masks because they could transmit the novel coronavirus to people they meet or pass on the street.
However, this suggestion was not well accepted even by other experts in the field. Face masks first became mandatory for public transport in June last year, followed by shops and indoor spaces.
However, they remain optional outdoors, with evidence showing that coronavirus is less transmissible in outdoor places.
Asymptomatic Joggers Could Transmit COVID-19 to People They Pass By
In an interview with Good Morning Britain on ITV, Professor Greenhalgh cautioned that asymptomatic joggers could transmit coronavirus to other people when they run past them if they are not wearing face masks.
She added that the virus could be present in the air and that anyone could catch it once they inhale the air that someone has exhaled, MailOnline reported.
"The exercising jogger, the puffing and panting jogger, you can feel their breath come and you can sometimes actually feel yourself inhale it. So there's no doubt that there is a danger there," Professor Greenhalgh said.
She pointed out that 40% of the cases of COVID-19 happen when people catch the virus from asymptomatic infected individuals. Relating to her suggestion, she said that a person jogging who thinks they are fine could develop symptoms of COVID-19 the next day and unknowingly breathe that virus to someone.
She noted that being socially responsible is important.
Wearing of Face Masks Not Necessary in Quieter Places
Public health expert Professor Devi Sridhar from the University of Edinburgh added that runners and cyclists should wear face coverings when in crowded places outdoors but noted that they may take off their masks and run freely when they are not surrounded by other people or in quieter places.
Professor Sridhar said that it depends on how close the people are to the runners and how heavily they are breathing, according to Metro. Like professor Greenhalgh, she said that coronavirus could spread through the air, so runners should consider where they are running.
For example, sidewalks are usually a busy area for people because it was built intended for pedestrians. Also, high streets are not advisable. But when in parks, runners may take off their masks and run freely.
Enforce Social Distancing
But not all people agree with professor Greenhalgh's suggestion. Infectious disease expert Dr. Jake Cuning of Imperial College London said on a Twitter post that this is shifting away from the focus of indoor transmission and is "whipping up hysteria."
Tom Watson, former labor deputy said that it is hard enough running without a face mask on and thinks he thinks that it would be harder running wearing face coverings.
Instead, he suggests that strict rules on social distancing should be enforced. He said runners should know that they are breathing deeply and should try to avoid running anywhere near to people.
Should runners wear masks?— Good Morning Britain (@GMB) March 2, 2021
Professor Trish Greenhalgh tells @piersmorgan and @susannareid100 that it is 'important to be socially responsible' due to the way Covid transmits.
Amid the fears that a wet mask can breed germs, she says the mask should be washed straight away. pic.twitter.com/kGeRCZT3in
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