Countries where wearing a public face mask is recommended have lower rates of coronavirus infections

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Countries advising residents to wear masks to stop the spread of coronavirus have recorded lower infection rates, the data said.

While other measures will affect outcomes such as testing and social distancing, it is clear that many Asian countries where face masks have been widely worn suffer fewer cases of Covid-19.

Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan and South Korea have all reported far fewer infections than western countries, although they are much closer to the source of the pandemic in China.

Countries advising residents to wear masks to stop the spread of coronavirus have recorded lower infection rates, the data shows. In the photo: a man wears a facial mask in Berlin today

Countries advising residents to wear masks to stop the spread of coronavirus have recorded lower infection rates, the data said. In the photo: a man wears a facial mask in Berlin today

The countries where the pandemic is most pronounced, in Italy, Spain, the United States, France and the United Kingdom, face masks have not been informed by their respective governments.

These countries have reported both infections and higher death rates than Asian countries where face masks have been widely worn.

In South Korea, Japan and Singapore, with a total population of 182 million, only 260 deaths have been reported, paler compared to 4,320 deaths in the United Kingdom alone.

The three Asian countries combined confirmed 14,484 cases of virus well below the figures observed in the West.

There has been much debate about the effectiveness of masks since the coronavirus epidemic.

The British government has long believed that cheap paper masks offer little protection against catching the virus.

Indeed, they are thin, large and porous – which facilitates the passage of tiny viral particles.

But experts have always argued that, while masks cannot prevent someone from contracting the disease, they prevent the wearer from infecting others.

In countries like South Korea (photo), the rate of infections and deaths is much lower

In countries like South Korea (photo), infection and death rates are much lower

As well as on surfaces, the virus can be transmitted via droplets that are released when a patient speaks, breathes, coughs, or sneezes.

And experts say the masks prevent people from touching their faces, which reduces the risk of viral microbes on their fingers entering the body through the mouth or nose.

This may have been more important than initially thought now that researchers know that infected people are contagious for several days before they have symptoms.

Professor Ian Jones, a virologist at the University of Reading, said that mass masks “should now be considered” in the UK.

Warning that the crisis is spreading quickly, he told MailOnline: “Anything that reduces the rate of transmission will put it under control sooner.” “

It comes after President Donald Trump said on Friday that the Center for Disease Control now recommends that Americans wear non-medical cloth masks.

“So it’s voluntary, you don’t have to,” said the president from the briefing room podium. “It’s voluntary, I don’t think I’m going to do it. “

There has been a lot of debate about the effectiveness of masks since the coronavirus epidemic

There has been a lot of debate about the effectiveness of masks since the coronavirus epidemic

A few minutes later, First Lady Melania Trump tweeted that Americans should take the mask seriously.

The World Health Organization is reconsidering its decision to tell healthy people not to wear face masks to protect themselves from the coronavirus.

A recent study found that coughing and sneezing can spread virus particles up to 27 feet (8 m) into a cloud around an infected patient.

Professor David Heymann, now an internal expert at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said that WHO was reopening its discussions on masks.

He said officials may decide to let people know the masks are beneficial – but people should wear one with a tight seal around the nose and wear it all the time.

Professor Heymann said: “There is currently a debate about the usefulness of masks because Hong Kong has provided evidence that masks can be useful in protecting people from infection. It is not yet known whether this is true or not.

“But as the evidence becomes available, it seems there will be a debate to try to decide whether masks play a role at some point in the epidemic. “

George Gao, director general of the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said this week that the “big mistake” in the United States and Europe was that “people don’t wear masks.”

He told Science magazine: “This virus is spread by droplets and close contact. Droplets play a very important role – you need to wear a mask, because when you speak, there are always droplets coming out of your mouth.

“Many people have asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic infections. If they wear face masks, it can prevent the droplets that carry the virus from escaping and infecting others. “

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