It will take people “some time” to get over the fear and anxiety that has arisen as a result of the pandemic, a sociology expert in the UK has said.
Robert Dingwall, professor of sociology at Nottingham Trent University, said the concerns which have arisen over the last 15 months would take time to subside as people get used to living with Covid-19 as an infection which circulates in society.
He said that the focus on masks and face coverings is a “signal of the levels of fear”.
Prof Dingwall said that it was time for the UK government to “make a much more conscious shift towards positive messaging” around coronavirus.
It’s going to take some time for those to subside as people get used to Covid as an endemic infection
He told Sky News: “I think the situation that we’re dealing with now is really more of a psychological one than an epidemiological one.
“Over the last couple of weeks the data haven’t really changed, the science hasn’t really changed, but I think we have seen the consequences of the levels of fear and anxiety that have been generated in the population over the last 12 to 15 months.
“And it’s going to take some time for those to subside as people get used to Covid as an endemic infection that sits in the background, that doesn’t really represent the sort of catastrophic threat that it might have presented when it first appeared last spring,” he said.
Prof Dingwall added: “I think the government needs to make a much more conscious shift towards positive messaging – the message that Covid is now generally a mild illness, that it rarely requires people to go to hospital, that this is something that we can get on with our lives with (it) in the background, and that almost every situation that you might find yourself in carries with it a minimal risk of picking up infection.
“I think we need to concentrate on pressing the message about safety, rather than pressing the message about risk.”
Asked about face coverings, Prof Dingwall said: “Frankly, the benefit of masks is much exaggerated.
“The way in which we focused on that is, I think, another signal of the levels of fear – we’re clinging to something which is visible, but doesn’t actually achieve very much.”
In contrast to the sociology professor’s comments, Ireland’s Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has said there are numerous studies providing direct evidence on the effectiveness of face masks to reduce transmission of respiratory viruses such as Covid-19.