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Government advisers to discuss whether public should wear face masks

21 April 2020

Scientific advisers to the government are due to discuss whether the public will be required to wear face masks, in a bid to help combat the Coronavirus pandemic.

However, concerns have been raised by NHS bosses that such a move could have a major impact on the availability of supplies for frontline staff.

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, told the BBC that there should be "clear evidence" to justify such a use of face masks, describing the need for NHS staff as 'crucial'.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has said there is no evidence to support the use of face masks by the general population.

The WHO advises:

  • If you are healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with COVID-19
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing
  • Masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water
  • If you wear a mask, then you must know how to use it and dispose of it properly.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has called for the wearing of masks while travelling in the city to become compulsory.

On Monday 20 April, 449 Coronavirus deaths were recorded in UK hospitals - taking the total number to 16,509.