Wearing a face mask DOES protect you from catching coronavirus – and spreading it to others, experts say

Wearing a face mask DOES protect you from catching coronavirus – and spreading it to others, experts say

July 21, 2020

WEARING a face mask does help protect you from catching Covid-19 – and from spreading it to others, experts have claimed.

Researchers have found coverings will only allow a lower dose of the virus to transmit to the wearer if they are exposed to Covid-19.

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The chief of infectious diseases at San Francisco General Hospital, and the co-author of the study Moica Gandi said: “The research suggests that we should go towards universal population-level masking to control infections and to limit the severity of disease.

“You will get in a lower dose of virus if you wear a mask and are exposed to Covid-19 and are very likely to have mild or no symptoms.”

Speaking to The Times she added that increasing the number of people who wore masks would include making them mandatory in offices.

This would be implemented for staff members who did not have their own private space.

The authors of the paper said a lower dose of Covid-19 gives the immune system a better chance of fighting it.

 

 

They said the use of masks reduced the amount of viral droplets that are passed between people.

Writing in the paper they added: “Exposing society to Sars-Cov-2 without the consequences of severe illness with public masking could lead to greater community-level immunity and slower spread as we await a vaccine.”

New rules

It comes as face coverings will become mandatory in supermarkets and shops in England from July 24.

The issue has been highly debated in the UK and last week ministers seemed to be on different pages when it came to where people would be required to wear them.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock last week claimed that masks and coverings would have to be worn in takeaway sandwich shops such as Pret A Manger.

Downing Street later contradicted Mr Hancock, claiming the coverings would not have to be worn.

Then business secretary Alok Sharma said the government "encouraged" the use of masks in places like Pret, but that it wasn't mandatory.

Mr Hancock has also previously said that masks do not have a role to play in controlling the infection in office environments.

This is while ministers also suggested that police officers should only be wearing masks as a last resort and the policing minister Kit Malthouse said the force did not have the capacity to ensure the public were complying with these rules.

Shop rules

The government previously said that it would not be down to shop staff to ensure customers using their facilities are wearing face masks and said this would be down to police.

However Mr Malthouse said there are no plans for officers to be standing outside shops to enforce this.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast he said: “What we’re doing is adopting the same posture as we did throughout the lockdown: encouraging people to comply. We know that the vast majority of people will.”

How to make a homemade mask

If you're unable to get your hands on a mask you can make your own at home.

Homemade masks won't offer the same level of protection as medical-grade ones, but it hasn't stopped DIY tutorials popping up online.

One of the simplest ones involves using two layers of kitchen roll and one tissue cut in half.

You then cover each end with masking tape – and you can even tape down some wire to stiffen the mask, if you have any.

Finish by punching holes in each end and threading elastic through to fit around your ears.

If you don't have elastic bands you could also use a hair tie.

The new study comes after the The British Medical Association yesterday said that masks must be worn to protect the NHS and to stop it being overwhelmed in the winter.

It also criticised the "illogical" Government guidance on the use of face coverings.

But BMA council chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul said introducing coverings in shops but not workplaces, or other areas where social distancing was impossible, was illogical.

He added: "Everyone has their role to play, but there needs to be clear, concise public messaging.

"To introduce measures for shops, but not other situations where physical distancing is not possible – including some workplaces – is illogical and adds to confusion and the risk of the virus spreading."

Dr Alison Pittard, head of the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine, warned the NHS could be "overwhelmed" by a second wave during seasonal flu and said if people do not wear face coverings the virus could spread to levels seen earlier this year, the Guardian reported.

She added: "People might think Covid is over with, why do I have to wear a face mask.

"But it isn't over. We still have Covid patients in intensive care.

"If the public don't physically distance and don't wear face coverings we could very quickly get back to where we were earlier this year."

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Those who back the use of face masks say they should be made compulsory in all indoor settings.

Official guidance states that people should wear face coverings in enclosed public places where they do not usually meet.

This includes places of worship and The Church of England is set to implement measures that would mean the congregation will have to wear masks in pews.

This is while the Muslim Council of Britain has advised mosque leaders to consider providing face coverings for worshippers.

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Don't miss the latest news and figures – and essential advice for you and your family.

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