British people are still told that face masks do not protect them from coronavirus, despite the fact that the US changes its position dramatically at night and advises all Americans to wear them.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said today that the UK would not change its approach as he claims there is little evidence that the masks help, and that they could be better used by health professionals and patients who test positive.
The World Health Organization (WHO), which currently does not recommend that healthy people wear face masks, is also reconsidering its guidelines.
But Mr. Hancock told Good Morning Britain today that the scientific advice is “very clear from the start,” claiming that it is not effective in protecting people from contracting the virus.
Wearing surgical facial masks in public may have helped slow the coronavirus crisis, it is suggested. But the British government has long believed that the cheap paper masks offer little protection against COVID-19 capture
South Korea, Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong have released millions of masks to their people and have managed to prevent large-scale outbreaks despite being so close to China. Critics say masks don’t work because China still has more than 80,000 cases
He added, “I was not told to do that. I’ll follow the scientific advice on that, which was very clear when we went through it at the beginning.
“Masks are very important to protect health professionals who may have a lot of incoming virus, but that (publicly advised to wear face masks) is not something we did here because we followed the advice and we followed the medical and scientific advice and the whole basis of our response is to ensure that we follow science.
THE TRUTH ABOUT FACE MASKS: WHAT STUDIES HAVE BEEN SHOWN
Researching how well different types of masks and facials vary, but recently, and in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, experts are increasingly leaning towards the idea that something is better than nothing.
A study from the University of Oxford, published March 30, concluded that surgical masks are just as effective at preventing respiratory infections as N95 masks for doctors, nurses and other health professionals.
It’s too early for reliable data on how well they prevent infection with COVID-19, but the study found that the thinner, cheaper masks work in flu outbreaks.
The difference between surgical or face masks and N95 masks is in the size of particles that – and more importantly – cannot get through the materials.
N95 respirators are made of thick, tightly woven and shaped material that fits tightly over the face and can trap 95 percent of all airborne particles, while surgical masks are thinner, looser and more porous.
This makes surgical masks much more comfortable to inhale and act on, but less effective in preventing small particles from entering your mouth and nose.
Drops of saliva and mucus from coughs and sneezes are very small, and the viral particles themselves are extremely small – in fact, they are about 20 times smaller than bacteria.
For this reason, a JAMA study published this month still claimed that people without symptoms should not wear surgical masks, as there is no evidence that the equipment will protect them from infection – although they can prevent people who cough and sneeze from others infect.
But the Oxford analysis of previous studies – which has not yet been peer-reviewed – found that surgical masks were worth wearing and statistically offered no less protection than N95 for health professionals around influenza patients.
However, any face mask is only as good as other health and hygiene practices. Experts generally agree that there is no substitute for thorough and regular hand washing to prevent disease transmission.
Some think the masks can also help to “train” people not to touch their faces, while others argue that the unfamiliar garment will actually make people more likely to do so, increasing infection risks.
If the CDC instructs Americans to wear masks, it could pose a second problem: hospitals are already facing a shortage of masks and other personal protective equipment.
The British government has long believed that the cheap paper masks offer little protection against the capture of COVID-19.
This is because they are thin, loose and porous – allowing the tiny viral particles to pass through easily.
But experts have always maintained that while the masks do not protect someone from contracting the disease, they keep the wearer from infecting others.
As on surfaces, the virus can be transmitted through droplets released when a patient speaks, breathes, coughs or sneezes.
And experts say masks prevent people from touching their faces, which reduces the chance of viral microbes on their fingers entering the body through the mouth or nose.
This was perhaps more important than initially thought, now that researchers know infected people are contagious for several days before they have symptoms.
Experts told MailOnline that a large-scale outbreak in the UK could have been prevented if millions of masks had been issued – which was the case in South Korea and Japan.
Professor Ian Jones, a virologist at the University of Reading, said that the mass issue of masks “now needs to be considered” in the UK.
He warned that the crisis is on the rise and said to MailOnline, “Anything that lowers transmission speed is more likely to get it under control.”
South Korea, Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong have released millions of masks to their people and have managed to prevent major outbreaks despite being so close to China.
Today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to advise all Americans to wear masks or other face covers when going out in public, but President Donald Trump said the new guidelines will not be mandatory.
But the policy marks a profound change in reporting, as both the CDC and the World Health Organization previously said that people should not wear a mask unless they are sick.
The new guideline has not been officially announced, but is in the works, according to multiple reports, as more than 1 million people worldwide are infected with the coronavirus.
President Trump confirmed it was on its way.
“I think they’re going to release the rules for that,” he said during his daily White House corona virus briefing on Thursday.
“I don’t think it will be mandatory because some people don’t want to, but if people want to wear them, they can. People wanted to use scarves, which they have a lot of people, they can. In many cases the scarf is better, it is thicker. It is thicker depending on the material. But they couldn’t do that if they wanted to. The recommendation comes true and we’ll see what that recommendation is, but I’ll say this, they can pretty much decide for themselves now, ”he said.
Vice President Mike Pence noted that it would be “coming days”.