United Kingdom

Professor claims runners should wear face coverings to stop the spread of Covid

A professor has claimed that runners should be wearing masks to stop the spread of Covid-19, despite recommendations set out by the World Health Organisation.   

Trish Greenhalgh, a professor of Primary Care Health Sciences at the University of Oxford, appeared on Good Morning Britain today where she called for joggers to be 'socially responsible' and wear face coverings.   

WHO advice says masks may reduce the ability to breathe comfortably and that sweat can make the mask become wet more quickly, promoting the growth of microorganisms. 

Appearing on the show with Professor Devi Sridhar and former Labour deputy leader Tom Watson, who previously lost eight stone, Greenhalgh argued that the advice does not 'represent' the view of several experts. 

Viewers disagreed that runners should be made to wear face coverings, with one arguing that those who keep fit are 'protecting the NHS' by trying their best to maintain their health. 

Trish Greenhalgh (top right), a professor of Primary Care Health Sciences at the University of Oxford, appeared on Good Morning Britain today with Professor Devi Sridhar (bottom right) and former Labour deputy leader Tom Watson (bottom left)

She called for joggers to be 'socially responsible' and wear face coverings to stop the spread of Covid-19, despite recommendations set out by the World Health Organisation

Speaking of the WHO advice, Greenhalgh said: 'The WHO has dragged their feet over masks, they were advising against masks for a long time and then changed their mind.

'I'm not sure that particular recommendation does represent expert opinion, there's no doubt that the virus is in the air, there is no doubt you can catch it if you inhale air someone else has exhaled.  

'The puffing and panting jogger, you can feel their breath come and you can sometimes feel yourself inhale it, there is no doubt there is a danger there.' 

She went on to say that while wet masks are a breeding ground for microorganisms, runners should simply wash their face coverings as soon as they have finished exercising.  

Viewers disagreed that runners should be made to wear face coverings, with one arguing that those who keep fit are 'protecting the NHS' by trying their best to maintain their health

The professor went on: '40 percent of Covid cases happen by catching it from people who have no symptoms.  

'You're jogging along you feel fine, the next day you develop symptoms - but you have breathed it on to an old lady walking her dog, so I think it's important to be socially responsible.' 

Viewers disagreed with the argument, with one writing: 'Protect the NHS. We are, by running, keeping fit, as Covid is clearly worse when you are fat and unfit. Which costs lives and liberty. Our high fat, low exercise population is a key reason why we are dying in greater numbers. Whether people want to talk about it or not.' 

Another said: 'I’m a keen runner/ triathlete. I really look for safe distance to run in, away from walkers etc. If I can’t I put my hand over my face and look away from people.' 

A third penned: 'When I run I certainly don’t puff and pant over anyone and I steer clear of others, it’s not difficult! I couldn’t run with a mask on.' 

Tom, 54, who previously weighed 22 stone, argued that for many people exercise has been their saving grace during the pandemic, and that it's 'hard enough' to run without a mask

Host Piers went on to share his distain for runners who exercise along his high street, comparing unfit joggers to 'giant snails' and 'panting, wheezing show offs'

Meanwhile, Tom, 54, who previously weighed 22 stone, argued that for many people exercise has been their saving grace during the pandemic, and that it's 'hard enough' to run without a mask. 

He said: 'I think for millions of people, lockdown through till winter, the only thing they've had is running, I'm part of an online group, we keep ourselves going by supporting each other online. I don't think I can do a run with a mask on, it's hard enough with a mask.' 

Host Piers went on to share his distain for runners who exercise along his high street, comparing unfit joggers to 'giant snails' and 'panting, wheezing show offs'. 

'I have a real problem along my high street', he said, 'I have a problem with them in the normal times, non pandemic times. 

Devi added: 'It really depends how close they are to you and how heavily they are breathing. I agree with Trish this can spread through the air, runners should think "Where am I running" 

'There's something so narcissistic about these people running, especially if they're not very fit and are bouncing along the street barging into everybody. The ones who go around you like a giant snail

'I have an inherent problem with joggers on high streets I think its the ultimate show off nonsense, but in the pandemic...what about my right not to be infected with Covid-19 by some panting, wheezing show off?' 

Tom replied: 'The strict rule that should be enforced is social distancing, if you are a runner you should know you're breathing more deeply and you should try and not run into people and run near them.'   

Devi added: 'It really depends how close they are to you and how heavily they are breathing. I agree with Trish this can spread through the air, runners should think "Where am I running" and try and be attentive to pedestrians. 

'The sidewalks are there for pedestrians, if you're in a park then take off your mask and run freely. I think we need some consideration for each other right now, if you're going to cycle in a busy area wear a mask.' 

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