A panicked dad has pulled his daughter out of a school in Bedford – and risks being fined for her unauthorised absence – after being told she can’t wear a medical mask in class to protect her from the deadly Ebola virus.
Jon O’Brien, 44, believes an Ebola outbreak will shortly hit the UK and thinks it’s too dangerous for his 13-year-old daughter to go to school unless she’s wearing a face mask .
But teachers at Sharnbrook Upper School have refused his face-mask request, pointing out that there are no reported cases of Ebola in the UK, and saying it would not be ‘appropriate’ for his daughter to wear a mask in school.
“I emailed the school with the request and was told it would be unnecessary,” Jon said, according to the Daily Mirror. “What is unnecessary about a parent wanting to protect their child?
Jon has already apparently spent over £600 on 200 medical masks and antibacterial hand gel and says, “I want my daughter to go to school but I am not going to do anything to put her in any kind of danger.”
Peter Rattu, the school’s Associate Principal, replied to Jon’s request in an email. “We follow the advice we are given. At the moment, there is no reported case in UK,” he wrote. “There is no threat so the use of mask is unnecessary. Your daughter should attend as normal.”
So, could you really catch Ebola at school?
The Ebola virus is serious and often fatal but the threat to those of us living in the UK is ‘very low’ according to the NHS. Although one person has been treated for the virus in the UK (a nurse who caught the virus when he was caring for Ebola victims in Africa), there have been no reported cases of transmission of the virus among people living in the the UK.
To catch Ebola, you would need to come into contact with the organs or bodily fluids (blood, urine, faeces, saliva, sperm) of someone who has died from Ebola or of an infected person who is seriously ill with the virus – and likely to be vomiting, bleeding and suffering from severe diarrhoea. It’s highly unlikely that anyone this ill would be making it to school.
Is there any need to wear a mask?
No – not unless you are caring for someone who is seriously ill with Ebola. The virus is not airborne, and the disease doesn’t cause much coughing or sneezing. In theory, if someone who was seriously ill with Ebola did cough or sneeze violently in your face, then you could be at risk but, again, someone this ill is extremely unlikely to be in school.