The general public should wear masks when in public

Wearing a mask should be the new normal in times of a respiratory pandemic. The idea is to reduce the spread of droplets which may contain the virus. There will be asymptomatic spreaders and there will also people who have the virus but who do not have symptoms yet. These "masks" do not necessarily have to be of the high specification of the medical face masks (ASTM F2100-19e1,) which are in short supply. Mind you I think all healthcare workers who are dealing with potential virus carriers should have N95 masks with face shields as a minimum. Wearing a mask, keeping away from crowds, being obsessional about cleaning hands these simple measures are the key to limiting (not preventing) but limiting community spread.

Why the contribution is important

Disclosure: Proud alumnus of the University of Aberdeen. Have been living in Hong Kong for twenty years. My hospital was ground zero for SARS in 2003. The people of Hong Kong had the same notice of COVID-19 as the rest of the world. We also have memories of 2003 and so everyone started to wear masks. We have had four deaths and just over a thousand cases. Schools were closed, cinemas, pubs, sports events etc but there a has not been a lock down. I write a blog for a Journal printed in Edinburgh: I hope I can put the URL's here as they tell the story. Tens of thousands of lives could have been saved if the Government had acted more quickly. Please, please, please if the Government will not say it, let the people say it. Wear a mask and show you care.

by ABurd888 on May 08, 2020 at 10:07AM

Current Rating

Average rating: 3.5
Based on: 19 votes


  • Posted by anniemckain May 08, 2020 at 10:23

    I agree this would reduce the spread but people could still go out and feel protected if everyone was wearing a mask
  • Posted by Pythagoras May 08, 2020 at 10:26

    Most of the evidence shows that masks are ineffective and provide little or no practical protection, if indeed they don’t do more harm than good. They may induce a false sense of security. Their widespread use adds to an unnecessary climate of fear in low risk situations.
  • Posted by MSW68 May 08, 2020 at 10:34

    Mandatory use of masks in every public place would be overkill, as commonly noted masks offer little protection and cause a false sense of security. There may be a case for people wearing masks in packed public transport in cities to give some comfort when social distancing is not possible.
  • Posted by Malcolm24 May 08, 2020 at 10:35

    A well evidence and intelligent suggestion. It must be mandatory to have the required public health benefit. "My mask protects you, your mask protects me". The argument about mask touching and limited protection for the wearer miss the point. It is an added layer of protection wear distancing is not realistic or frankly poorly observed. All staff in hospitals should wear masks to help break the chain of staff to staff and staff to non-infected patients. Stanford Hospitals mandated this around 6 weeks ago. There is some good practice in Scottish hospitals but it is far from universal. It needs to be.
  • Posted by Sulphonamide May 08, 2020 at 10:55

    It would seem courteous to those who are working in hospitals, shops, driving buses, or doing whatever else is keeping us from complete meltdown, to wear face coverings of some sort. I agree that there are not a global panacea and have their downsides (adjusting them with dirty hands), but this seems like those who argue that forcing people to wear cycle helmets is bad for overall national health (puts people off cycling....while ignoring the undeniable fact that smacking one's head on the road is definitely less damaging when it is encased in a protective cover): if I sneeze or cough with a face covering, someone in front of me gets lower exposure to the virus if I am contagious.
  • Posted by ICWell May 08, 2020 at 12:35

    I agree with most of this post, however, hand washing must not be reduced. It is also important that some simple training on how to wear face masks ( coverings) is important. I would also like people to be made aware that expiry dates for masks can be extended by retesting protocols. It is incorrect to say that the evidence says they offer limited protection, a lot of this is based on wearer's not using masks correctly which is not difficult to overcome. And as for false sense of security I suspect most people currently wearing them are more cautious and more diligent in hand washing. Plenty of evidence to show they can reduce aerosols which is considered the way that COVID-19 is spread. This along with increased test and trace would help and certainly not hinder.
  • Posted by ABurd888 May 10, 2020 at 14:19

    @ICWell yes hand washing is vital as part of a package of individual behaviors that can really help reduce the burden on the Health Services "Wearing a mask, keeping away from crowds, being obsessional about cleaning hands these simple measures are the key to limiting (not preventing) but limiting community spread." Keep safe.
  • Posted by ABurd888 May 10, 2020 at 14:31

    @Pythagoras and @MSW68 I am curious about where you get your information from that mask wearing has been shown to be ineffective. I do believe that this is dangerously misleading and false so it needs to be addressed at source. 4 deaths in mask wearing Hong Kong versus 3000 deaths in non mask wearing Scotland. Population density far greater in Hong Kong and absolute numbers of population also greater by almost 2 million Sharing your source of misinformation would be very helpful in addressing this dangerous perspective. This is not a personal criticism and this forum is anonymous so please do share. Thankyou.
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