Tuesday, 19 Jan 2021

Camilla under fire for wearing visor rather than mask at engagement

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Camilla visited the Medical Detection Dogs organisation this morning to learn more about trials of dogs being taught to identify COVID-19 in humans. During her visit, the Duchess of Cornwall opted to wear a transparent visor rather than a face covering. 

This choice, according to ITV’s royal editor Chris Ship, comes down to a personal preference Camilla.

Mr Ship wrote on Twitter: “The Duchess of Cornwall has worn a face mask in public before. But not a visor like today.

“She thinks communication is much easier when you can see someone speak or smile.”

Government guidelines on coronavirus require people to wear face coverings at all time on public transports, in places of worship, museums and entertainment venues, libraries and reading rooms, banks, post offices and shops. 

Face coverings are not mandatory in other indoor venues, such as gym, restaurants and non-crowded places, especially if doors or windows can be left open, where it is possible to keep a safe distance from other people.

This means Camilla’s choice to wear a visor didn’t break safety measures issued to quash the spread of COVID-19.

However, a few royal watchers took to Twitter lamenting her visor isn’t as effective as a face mask.   

Twitter user Eoin Dineen said, referring to Camilla’s belief visors makes it easier to communicate with others: “It may be but it’s next to useless to prevent spread of droplets.”

Another social media user with the nickname C_R_5 said: “Without a mask, how do they prevent transmission via exhaled aerosol potentially carrying the virus?

“They can protect the wearer’s eyes, but don’t seem great at protecting others.”   

Royal watcher Georgia also said: “Visors are not safe enough. Wear a mask.”

And JaneyK added: “That visor is useless”.

Not all royal watchers commenting on Camilla’s visor were against her choice.

A royal fan, Poppy, praised Camilla saying: “That’s so much better…it is really difficult to make yourself understood wearing a mask, especially if you have a low voice…I know only too well.

“She looks great in it too.” 

Eli Perencevich, an epidemiologist at the University of Iowa, observed in a recent article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association how face shields “offer a number of advantages”.

He said: “While medical masks have limited durability and little potential for reprocessing, face shields can be reused indefinitely and are easily cleaned with soap and water, or common household disinfectants.

“People wearing medical masks often have to remove them to communicate with others around them; this is not necessary with face shields.”

However, Matthais Echternach, head of phoniatrics and paediatric audiology at Ludwig-Maximilians-University Hospital Munich, has called for caution when it comes to the widespread use of visors without face coverings, as the former protections appear to only stop large droplets.

After having tested the length at which larger droplets and aerosols can go when two singers wear visors, he told the BBC: “Nearly all of the aerosols were coming around the side of the face shield and reached nearly the same distances as without wearing anything.

“They are certainly not effective when you are in close contact with someone.”

As patron of the Medical Detection Dogs organisation, Camilla was shown how dogs can detect the odour of human diseases, such as cancer, malaria and Parkinson’s, with the aim of improving diagnosis and saving lives.

Camilla was also shown how one of the dogs at the centre, Marley, can identify a passenger in a queue for a plane or a sports event.

The organisation, in collaboration with the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, is now working on how dogs can identify coronavirus on a passenger from a greater distance. 

Professor James Logan, an expert at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine who attended the engagement with the Duchess, told Camilla this trial with dogs and coronavirus could have a significant impact not just in the UK but also across the world.

At the end of her visit, Camilla, who wore an Anna Valentine dress and a daisy brooch in honour of her patronage, made an appeal to hospitals.

Explaining it takes several sample of positive cases of coronavirus to train dogs, the Duchess said: “We have seen today, with COVID, how quickly they are learning.

“It will be a game changing moment for this country and the world.

“But we do need help, we do need more positive samples, we need to appeal to all the hospitals to please give medical detection dogs these samples, because they are going to help save thousands of lives.”   

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