Experts have told government scientists that there is evidence that the public using homemade masks could help reduce the risk of them transmitting coronavirus.
The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), which provides the British government with scientific advice to support decision-making during emergencies, met on Tuesday for the third time to discuss the public wearing masks.
Scientists addressing SAGE have said that while they may not be able to stop a person catching coronavirus, there is some evidence suggesting the even homemade cloth masks could help prevent the spread of droplets that carry the virus from being released into the air, according to The Times.
Witnesses said that “face-coverings” could be useful in workplaces, public transport, shops, and other confined spaces, suggesting that recommending them could help facilitate an end to lockdown measures.
Oxford University’s Professor Trisha Greenhalgh told the British Medical Journal (BMJ) on April 9th that masks “could have a substantial impact on transmission with a relatively small impact on social and economic life”.
She recently said: “We should be covering our faces with homespun materials like cotton. Medical-grade masks are scratchy and uncomfortable. Your old T-shirt is soft and nice, and with a couple of layers of kitchen paper inside a double layer, it will reduce the droplets coming out of your mouth and nose by about 95 per cent.”
Farage Predicts Wearing Masks and Social Distancing Will Become the Norm https://t.co/v2QVDO2q9p
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) April 15, 2020
Professor Sian Griffiths also said the United Kingdom could follow the U.S.’s lead in continuing to advise medical staff to wear clinical mouth-nose masks in hospitals, while the public is recommended to wear homemade “cloth face coverings” in public.
“The CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] advice in the U.S. is pragmatic,” Prof Griffiths said in comments reported by The Guardian.
“It recognises both the need to ensure the supply of masks for clinical situations where they are obviously needed at the same time as recognising that there could potentially be benefits in wearing ‘masks’ in public to prevent passing on the infection.”
So far, it appears that the British government has held back on recommending public-wide wearing of masks or face-coverings over the NHS’s concerns that widespread usage could deplete the supply of PPE needed in hospitals in the frontline battle against coronavirus.
Chris Hopson, the chief executive of NHS Providers, said on Tuesday: “There needs to be clear evidence that wearing masks, along with other measures, will deliver significant enough benefits to take us out of lockdown to potentially jeopardise NHS mask supply.”
The government has reportedly missed out on opportunities to purchase at least 16 million masks for NHS staff in the past month, with complaints British suppliers offering certified PPE had not received responses through the government’s procurement process, according to The Guardian.
UK Shipping Millions of Pieces of PPE to EU Nations Despite Widespread Shortages https://t.co/yjGLFuVOZL
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) April 22, 2020