The Guardian repeats today what we have been saying for quite some time:
The public should wear homemade masks when they venture outdoors to help reduce the spread of coronavirus, according to scientists who claim Britain’s masks policy does too little to prevent infections.
Prof Sian Griffiths, who led the Hong Kong government’s investigation into the 2003 Sars epidemic, said Britain should adopt the same approach as the US, where people are advised to make their own “cloth face coverings” and wear them in public spaces.
Trish Greenhalgh, a professor of primary care health sciences at Oxford University who recently completed a review on face masks, also advocated the use of masks in public and suggested an old T-shirt combined with kitchen paper would suffice.
The Guardian has some suggestions on how to make your own face mask, as indeed do we. Take a look here.
However some would have you believe that wearing a face mask is not such a great idea. The New Scientist for example. According to Jessica Hamzelou in a possibly paywalled article:
As cases of covid-19 continue to rise, many people are choosing to wear a face mask when out in public – but do they work?
Some have also been using cloth face coverings, but these aren’t up to the job, says Raina MacIntyre at the University of New South Wales in Sydney.
In 2015, MacIntyre and her colleagues ran a clinical trial pitting cloth masks against medical ones. The team provided 1607 healthcare workers at 14 hospitals in Hanoi, Vietnam, with either disposable medical masks or reusable cloth ones, which could be washed at home at the end of the day they were worn. Those that wore cloth masks were significantly more likely to catch a virus, the team found.
It seems that I need to point out to Jessica that just because an academic study finds that DIY masks aren’t as effective as pukka medical masks that doesn’t mean that they are useless. She continues:
But what about the rest of us? In an attempt to answer this question, Paul Hunter at the University of East Anglia, UK, and his colleagues looked at 31 published studies on the efficacy of face masks.
Overall, the evidence suggests there may be a small benefit to wearing some kind of face covering. They do seem to prevent sick people from spreading the virus, but the evidence is weak and inconsistent, says Hunter.
“Our view is that there was some evidence of a degree of protection, but it wasn’t great,” he says. “So we still don’t effectively know if face masks in the community work.”
It seems masks “prevent sick people from spreading the virus”. You can spread the SARS-CoV-2 virus before you show any symptoms, so wear a mask to prevent other people possibly catching your bugs!
Scientists say so, and somewhat grudgingly so does the New Scientist. In the current climate I wouldn’t go out in a public place without one: