BRITS will not be required to wear masks in public despite a host of other nations including the US changing their advice.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the Government’s health advisers had not told him to change the UK’s approach to members of the public wearing face masks.
⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates
He said there was little evidence to show the masks help and would be better used by healthcare workers and patients who test positive.
But it puts the UK at odds with the increasing number of countries starting to advise their citizens to wear some form of face covering when they head outdoors.
The US has changed its stance and is preparing to formalise new guidance to recommend Americans cover their mouth with items such as bandanas, snoods, scarves, T-shirts or homemade cloth if they cannot access a mask.
Officials in New York City are already urging people to wear masks when they go outside.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said coverings for the nose and mouth can be “real homegrown” and made from a scarf or bandana.
Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti has also encouraged his city’s residents to cover their faces when out in public.
Give now to The Sun’s NHS appeal
BRITAIN’s four million NHS staff are on the frontline in the battle against coronavirus.
But while they are helping save lives, who is there to help them?
The Sun has launched an appeal to raise £1MILLION for NHS workers.
The Who Cares Wins Appeal aims to get vital support to staff in their hour of need.
We have teamed up with NHS Charities Together in their urgent Covid-19 Appeal to ensure the money gets to exactly who needs it.
The Sun is donating £50,000 and we would like YOU to help us raise a million pounds, to help THEM.
No matter how little you can spare, please donate today here thesun.co.uk/whocareswinsappeal
In Europe, Austria, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Bosnia-Herzegovina have introduced rules requiring citizens to wear masks.
Residents in the Philippines have to wear a mask in public, and the same is true in some of the worst-affected provinces in China.
In Japan, where masks were already a household staple, the government plans to post two gauze masks to each of the country’s 50 million households.
But quizzed about the UK Government’s approach yesterday, Mr Hancock told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “Masks are very important to protect healthcare workers… but that [asking the public to wear them] isn’t something that we’ve done here because we’ve followed the advice and we’ve followed the medical and scientific advice and the whole basis of our response has been making sure that we follow the science.”
Professor Susan Michie, of University College London, said there is “not good evidence” to suggest wearing masks will cut transmissions.
She said: “They do not protect against the virus getting into the eyes – only close fitting goggles do this.
“People may not fit the masks properly or take them on and off. Touching face masks and not taking them off in the correct way may mean people contaminate their hands and spread the virus.
“People may have a false sense of reassurance and thus pay less attention to other behaviours key to reducing transmission such as social distancing and hand-washing.”
Last night deputy chief medical officer John Van-Tam explained there was no evidence that wearing a mask stops the spread of the virus.
Speaking at the daily press conference in No10, he said: “Yes it is true that we do see very large amounts of mask wearing particularly in Southeast Asia but we have always seen that for many decades and it is entirely wired into some cultures that masks are worn quite frequently in open spaces. So it’s very different.
“But in terms of the hard evidence and what the UK Government recommends, we do not recommend face masks for general wearing by the public.”