Expert advice on the wearing of face masks | Letters

Dr Giuseppe Bignardi, Alan Wild and John Kirwood on the debate over whether the general public should wear masks to stop the spread of Covid-19

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.
Alan Wild
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.
John Kirkwood

• Join the debate – email

• Read more Guardian letters – click here to visit

• Do you have a photo you’d like to share with Guardian readers? Click here to upload it and we’ll publish the best submissions in the letters spread of our print edition


The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Double standards over Neil Ferguson’s resignation | Letters
Letters: The epidemiologist made an error of judgment but his research may have saved thousands of lives, says Joe McCarthy. Plus Dr Chris Newall on Boris Johnson’s own disregard for safety. Plus letters from Prof Adrian Renton, Angela Barton and Dr John Doherty


06, May, 2020 @5:35 PM

Article image
Make face masks compulsory outdoors | Letters
Letters: Face coverings should be mandatory the moment you step outside, writes Christine Whatford, while Michael Weedy wants joggers to wear masks


10, Jan, 2021 @5:29 PM

Article image
Why haven't doctors been better protected against this virus? | Letters
Letters: Two readers on the shocking truth behind why NHS staff are being infected with coronavirus, putting their families and patients at risk


24, Mar, 2020 @7:38 PM

Article image
A pandemic that should never be forgotten | Letters
Letters: Readers respond to an article by Jonathan Freedland, which suggested that the coronavirus outbreak may quickly fade from collective memory


31, Jan, 2021 @5:08 PM

Article image
Boris Johnson unmasked as inept and uncaring | Letters
Letters: Readers express frustration at the prime minister’s recent visit to Hexham hospital, where he failed to wear a face covering


10, Nov, 2021 @5:33 PM

Article image
Wear a mask to protect me as well as you | Letters
Letters: Hilary Cashman and Bill Sharp urge the UK to adopt the wearing of masks to stop the spread of coronavirus


16, Apr, 2020 @6:10 PM

Article image
Coronavirus: a test strategy that failed | Letters
Letters: Readers comment on the UK government’s response, suggesting it moved too late, is negligent and is spreading the wrong message – again


03, Apr, 2020 @4:06 PM

Article image
The benefits of wearing face masks are clear | Letters
Letters: Masks worn by the public will limit the transmission of Covid-19 and will help save lives, writes Dr Beng Goh


06, Apr, 2020 @5:00 PM

Article image
Face masks needed for Covid-safe offices | Letter
Letters: The longer you spend in an aerosol-rich environment such as a poorly ventilated office with someone who is infected, the greater the risk, say Dr Helen Davison, Dr Finola O’Neill, and Dr Jonathan Fluxman


22, Jul, 2020 @4:26 PM

Article image
Sick politics at the heart of Public Health England closure | Letters
Letters: The independence of the body which is replacing Public Health England is in doubt, according to Justin McCracken. Dr Aamir Ahmed wonders why England’s approach is so different to that of other advanced nations


20, Aug, 2020 @5:36 PM