The claim by ministers that recommending the use of masks in the community could jeopardise the NHS supply (Scientists join calls for UK public to wear homemade face masks outdoors, 21 April) is disingenuous. The face masks recommended for use in the community by various bodies are homemade cloth masks or reusable washable masks of the type used by cyclists. A recommendation for that type of mask is not likely to impact on the supply of the rather different single-use medical masks.
An article in the Lancet on 16 April endorses the use of masks in the community as a low-cost adjunct to social distancing and hand hygiene.
While other nations have outlined their lockdown exit plans, which in the case of Italy includes the use of face masks, our government is reluctant to explain how it intends to contain Covid-19 when it starts lifting restrictions. The experience in many Asian countries is that shifting the effort to the community, with testing of all cases, contact-tracing and encouraging the use of masks, could prevent a second peak.
Dr Giuseppe Bignardi
• At least one of your readers has joined the bandwagon on wearing face masks during the present coronavirus crisis (Letters, 20 April). The current government advice from the top medical experts and scientists is that the wearing of face masks in the street has little effect on the spread of the virus.
The chronic shortage of personal protective equipment means that specialist masks are vital for doctors, nurses and carers. To see people wearing them in the street is, frankly, annoying when this equipment is so essential elsewhere, in hospitals and care homes. And are homemade masks all that effective?
The jury may be out, but to insist everyone wears a mask at present almost suggests we are living in a totalitarian society where the air is badly polluted. Let’s at least wait for the experts to direct us.
Rochdale, Greater Manchester
• Anyone doubting the benefit of wearing a simple face mask should try reading the Guardian Daily on an iPad for a few days with a mask, and then without one. The amount of screen spatter in the latter case illustrates clearly how well you can protect others from your breath’s particulates.
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