Since first launching in 1998, the Google Doodle has provided Internet users with amusement and education on notable dates as they browse the web.
The temporary alteration of the Google logo has recently been utilised to pay homage to remarkable individuals including Philippine artist and activist Pacita Abad, Turkish astrophysicist Dilhan Eryurt and Jamaican-born British-based activist Olive Morris, who became a champion for the black community in the UK in the 1970s.
The Google Doodle on Wednesday 5 August draws upon the Covid-19 outbreak, using a cartoon animation to remind people of a simple act they can do to help reduce or prevent transmission of the virus.
What is today’s Google Doodle?
Today’s Google Doodle is accompanied by a simple message: “Wear a Mask. Save Lives.”
The doodle shows the letters that make up the Google logo wearing different patterned masks, one of them covered in hearts and another printed with stripes.
In the explanation for the illustration, Google states: “As Covid-19 continues to impact communities around the world, help stop the spread by following these steps.”
Internet users can then follow a link to another page on Google, which lists several measures people can take to stop coronavirus from spreading.
These include: trying to stay at least two metres away from people you do not live with who are not in your support bubble; washing your hands regularly with soap and water; using hand sanitiser; washing your hands as soon as you have returned home; and wearing something that covers your nose and mouth when you are in environments such as shops or public transport.
The Google Doodle also includes another link to a resources page, where people can find resources such as domestic violence and sexual assault helplines, information about those who are at high-risk during the pandemic and virtual support for individuals who are recovering from addiction.
How effective is wearing a mask to stop transmission of the coronavirus?
Throughout the pandemic, organisations including the World Health Organisation (WHO), the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the UK government have shifted their views on the benefit of wearing a mask in certain circumstances, prompting confusion among members of the public.
The WHO’s current standing is that if people are in a setting where social distancing of at least one metre is not possible, such as on public transport or in shops, then they are recommended to wear non-medical fabric masks.
“For areas of widespread transmission, with limited capacity for implementing control measures and especially in settings where physical distancing of at least one metre is not possible – such as on public transport, in shops or in other confined or crowded environments – WHO advises governments to encourage the general public to use non-medical fabric masks,” the organisation states.
The WHO adds that groups of people including health workers, anyone with “symptoms suggestive of Covid-19” and individuals who are looking after people with suspected or confirmed cases of the virus are recommended to wear medical masks.
Research has largely suggested that while wearing face coverings won’t necessarily prevent you from contracting coronavirus, it may reduce your chance of passing it on if you are unknowingly asymptomatic.
What are the current rules on wearing a mask in the UK?
The rule on wearing a mask is being expanded to various other settings from 8 August, including in cinemas, in theatres, in museums, in places of worship and in beauty salons, other than when it is necessary to remove the mask for treatments.
The Scottish government recommends that people where a face covering if they are in an area where they are unable to distance themselves from others, in addition to being required by law to wear a mask in settings such as shops and public transport.
The authority adds that there is “no evidence to suggest there might be a benefit outdoors from wearing a face covering unless in a crowded situation”.