No backing for face masks in the community, says government

New government guidance states there will not be efforts to equip key workers like supermarket staff, waste collectors and remaining school staff with face masks during the coronavirus epidemic, despite calls for extra protection.

Guidance updated on Monday, April 6 states there is “very little evidence of widespread benefit” to the use of masks outside of the clinical or care setting, where they play an important role.

In Lincolnshire, shoppers and relatives of workers have aired fears that supermarket staff were being put at risk by lacking personal protective equipment (PPE).

Public Health England has instead recommended that workplaces are optimised for social distancing, signs are put in place reminding workers to stay home if they have symptoms, avoid touching their face and that they are provided with hand sanitiser for frequent use.

The government guidance states: “To be effective, face masks must be worn correctly, changed frequently, removed properly, disposed of safely and used in combination with good universal hygiene behaviour.

“Research shows that compliance with these recommended behaviours reduces over time when wearing face masks for prolonged periods, such as in the community.

“Therefore, PHE does not advise masks in public places and for those working in supermarkets, waste collection, schools and similar settings.”

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