Coronavirus: British should wear cloth masks in public, health experts say | UK News


There is an “urgent need” for the British to wear cloth masks in public places to combat the spread of the coronavirus, a group of health experts warned.

In an open letter to the government, more than 20 public health experts and academics said the measure would be one of the “simplest, cheapest and most positive” ways of protecting people from COVID-19.

This comes after Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer supported calls for the government to make formal recommendations to people to wear face masks in transportation and in workplaces where social distancing is difficult.

People pictured wearing masks in Brixton, South London
London mayor Sadiq Khan wants masks to be mandatory on public transport

London Mayor Sadiq Khan previously said he wanted to wear face masks on public transport in the capital to be made compulsory.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman said government science advisers are finalizing their advice on masks for ministers soon.

The open letter to the government was signed by figures such as Andrew Phillips, professor of epidemiology at University College London, Martin McKee, professor of European public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and Paul Roderick, professor of public health at the University of Southampton.

Experts warn of “urgent need to ensure that the general population uses cloth face covers in public places”, especially in supermarkets and public transport, “as an additional tool to reduce transmission community virus.

They urge the government to recommend the use of cloth face covers so that public demand does not “compete with the needs of health and care workers for protective equipment.”

“Wearing face covers (washed regularly with hot soapy water) in public is probably one of the simplest, cheapest and most positive measures to protect people from infection,” the letter says. .

Ambulance team members wear masks outside Doncaster Royal Infirmary
Ambulance crew members wear masks outside Doncaster Royal Infirmary

Experts say they recognize the effectiveness of wearing a face covering is a “disputed problem”, and that the World Health Organization currently does not recommend wearing masks outside of clinical settings compared to COVID-19.

But they add that several countries have “imposed or strongly recommended” the public wearing of face masks, including mainland China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan, the Czech Republic, Singapore and parts of Germany.

The coronavirus is spread by large droplets “which can be prevented by social isolation and hand hygiene and by covering the face,” the letter said.

Coronavirus: the problem of face masks

Transmission is also possible from small droplets lost during normal speech that can stay in the air for several hours, so wearing a face covering can reduce this risk, he adds.

“Face masks will be most effective in stopping the spread of the virus when compliance is high,” experts say.

“With proper advice, the public will quickly learn how to use face covers properly while retaining other controls. “

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Transport Secretary Grant shapps Sky News said last week that wearing masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 could have some benefits.

But he said the policy is under review by the government’s chief scientific advisers and warned that face covers can even be “disadvantageous” if worn incorrectly.


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