Is it obligatory to lift the mask too early on public transport?

This was the last major barrier measure against Covid-19 still in place in France. The obligation to wear a mask on public transport will be canceled on Monday. On BFMTV on Thursday 12 May, Olivier Veran defended the decision, which was announced the day before at the end of the last cabinet meeting.

The Minister of Health stated that the situation is under control. We know the risks, we’re collectively protected against this wave of the Omicron variant that we’ve encountered with minimal health damage. »

“We put in place curbs when necessary and gradually raise them as pollution decreases,” he added. He still recommends wearing a muzzle “for all those who consider themselves threatened by the virus,” and did not rule out the return of the latter in the event of a new wave.

From fake

However, some scholars have called it 20 minutes We still highly recommend continuing to wear a mask on public transportation. Others, on the contrary, believe that the indicators are rather positive and that at least a temporary lift is conceivable.

For Benjamin Davido, medical director for crises and infectious disease specialist at Raymond Poincaré Hospital in Garches (Hauts de Seine), this decision is “more political than scientific.” It marks the end of the five-year period and “the desire to wipe the record clean from the Covid-19 counters”.

“Keep the mask on at all ages”

However, he believes, “we risk making public transportation a place at risk of pollution,” especially during rush hour. “In the Paris region, there is clear mixing of less than one metre, with the mixed population and a large number of people making tracing operations impossible,” he continues.

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According to data from Public Health France, public transport is the source of 1.1% of Covid-19 pollution. The agency explained that the risk of transmission is very limited there, “because wearing a mask is mandatory and respectful.” in an interview in France informationYvanie Caillé, founder of Renaloo, an association for kidney patients, urges “all French people to wear a mask during transport” in solidarity with depressed patients.

“Mask wear is still recommended at any age on public transportation, not only for people who feel vulnerable, but also those around them,” supports Judith Muller, an epidemiologist at the School for Advanced Studies in Public Health (Ehesp). It would be a good idea to maintain the habit. In the coming weeks, the coming months.”

Indicators could have been set

The decision to rescind the obligation to wear a mask, which comes somewhat early for Benjamin Davido, had to be based on indications. “A token number, as it identifies, could have been set as less than 10,000 cases per day” (versus 40,000 daily cases currently) and it was necessary to wait until mid-June and start departures for transfer. Less crowded.

While it is true that the population is better protected after vaccinations or infections, this protection diminishes over time. Both report a risk of rebound as mask-wearing adherence is raised and are concerned about the new BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants, discovered in South Africa.

There is room for maneuver

On the contrary, Pascal Crepi, an epidemiologist also at Ehesp, believes that “the bulk of the wave has passed” and that with the population being vaccinated, the reproduction rate is less than 1, and a season less conducive to transmission, the lifting of the obligation to wear a mask “should not be To change the situation in terms of occurrence.” He explains, however, that the arrival in France of possible sub-variables may “make it more difficult to control the epidemic”.

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He also recommends wearing a muzzle for those who wish, but he believes that in light of the declining phase of the epidemic, there is room for maneuver “to take the pressure off a little bit from the means to prevent infection.”

“All indications are going in the right direction, supports William Dabb, epidemiologist and head of health safety lessons at Cnam. So reducing restrictions makes sense. But we must remain vigilant and reverse course without delay if the situation changes. Scientists all agree on this point: the pandemic. It’s not over yet, and the final end to wearing masks is still a long way off.

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