Labour MP avoids questions about masks at party conference
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The Labour MP hit out at MPs as she claimed “most Tories” are not wearing a mask in the House of Commons as Covid infection rates have begun to rise. But Zarah Sultana was stumped when panellist Julia Hartley-Brewer asked why she was not wearing one while sitting next to people on BBC Politics Live. Ms Sultana said: “I feel incredibly unsafe in the chamber when I’m sitting in there wearing a mask and I see most of the Tories not wearing masks.
“It makes me feel unsafe, it makes me colleagues feel unsafe.”
Ms Hartley-Brewer interjected: “Did you feel unsafe at the Labour Party conference when no one was wearing masks?
“Going to all those parties, going to karaoke, not wearing masks.”
Ms Sultana continued: “I sit in the chamber wearing a mask and I can see hundreds of MPs not wearing masks.
“There are vulnerable MPs also sitting there and I think it’s a dangerous message to send to the rest of the country.”
Ms Hartley-Brewer added: “Why are you not wearing one now?”
Ms Sultana replied: “Because we’re in a studio, we’re socially distanced, have you seen how claustrophobic it can get in the chamber?”
It comes after Professor Jonathan Van-Tam was asked whether MPs should wear masks in the House of Commons.
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England’s deputy chief medical officer told BBC Breakfast and BBC Radio 5 Live: “I don’t think I’m in a position to judge every single type of interaction that occurs in any work premises, including the House of Commons.”
He said that Department for Education’s advice is that, generally speaking, face masks should not be worn in schools, adding: “I can see that they could be quite inhibitory to the natural expressions of learning in children involving speech and facial expression. I think it’s difficult for children in schools with face masks.”
On whether 12 to 17-year-olds could receive a second dose of a Covid vaccine, he said he believes “there is plenty of time for decisions to be made about second doses” and it is being kept under review, adding that most protection comes from a first dose.
He said the US has recommended vaccinations for five to 11-year-olds but the UK does not have a licensed vaccine for this age group, though Pfizer may file for approval in the UK and Europe in the next few months.
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An expert has suggested it is a mistake for people to not be wearing face masks in enclosed spaces.
Professor Dame Angela McLean, chief scientific adviser for the Ministry of Defence, said she had observed people not even wearing face coverings on the London Underground, where they are mandatory.
Speaking at the Jameel Institute’s annual symposium, Data analytics in a pandemic: policy, politics and partnerships, Dame Angela also said the damage done to children by the closure of schools is regrettable.
She said: “There is not a lot of mask-wearing. Even on the Tube, where it is obligatory, there are lots of people not wearing masks.
“My personal opinion is that’s a mistake.”
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