BMA calls for face coverings to be worn by public ‘as a matter of course’

by BMA media team

Press release from the BMA

Location: England
Published: Tuesday 23 June 2020

Responding to the Westminster Government’s announcement on the further easing of lockdown measures today, chair of BMA council, Dr Chaand Nagpaul said:

“The decision by the Government to move from two metre physical distancing to one metre in England, is designed to be of benefit to business and to households. But the virus is still circulating in the community – as the Health Secretary has noted, one in every 1700 people – 35,000 in the population - are infected. We must do all we can to avoid further spread and local outbreaks as has occurred in other nations and which would cost more lives.

“The crucial aspect of this reduction in distancing is the Prime Minister’s acknowledgement that it comes with conditions attached – one of these is the wearing face coverings. The BMA believes face masks or coverings should be worn by the public now as a matter of course, in order to keep the risk of infection as low as possible.

“For someone, not wearing a face covering, and who has the virus or is a carrier, the risk of transmitting the virus to another person close by is 70%. By the carrier wearing a covering, that drops to just 5%. If a carrier and healthy person both wear masks, the probability of transmitting the virus is just 1.5%1. It makes absolute sense therefore that the wearing of masks will significantly help bring this pandemic further under control and reduce even further the risk of a second spike.

“This is especially true when in indoor settings such as shops, homes and schools. It is already mandatory to wear coverings on public transport and we believe the Westminster Government should now require the public to wear face coverings and ensure people have access to enough proper masks or coverings, as has been done in other countries. The BMA also wants to see domestic manufacturing of masks supported, to meet demand.”

The BMA also wants to see how the Government will measure the impact of this latest relaxation and to show there are clear and robust measures to ensure these changes do not result in more people becoming infected, ill, or die; or a second spike which could overwhelm the NHS should this occur this winter.

Ends

Notes to editors

The BMA is a trade union and professional association representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.

  1. These figures have been calculated by the BMA’s Medical Academic Staff Committee and Public Health Medicine Committee.

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