Sadiq Khan on Friday urged the British Government to agree to change their advice and demand Britons don face masks when taking public transport to help slow down the coronavirus contagion rate. The Government has so far rejected suggestions of policing the use of face masks, insisting they have been following advice from the World Health Organisation (WHO) on the use of facial protection. BBC Today presenter Nick Robinson also pointed out to Mr Khan his demands could significantly backfire: “Here’s the worry and it’s reflected in the World Health Organisation advice, it’s reflected in the advice that comes to the Governments throughout the UK.
“These masks give people a false sense of confidence. You may say, ‘look, all they do is stop you infecting someone else’.
“But people wearing them feel invulnerable. I was told a story only today of someone in a queue in a shop refusing to respect the 2m distance and turning around to say, ‘I’m wearing a mask, it’s fine.’
“The problem is, if you wear a mask, people may say, ‘I’m fine then’.”
Mr Khan insisted he has been advising the use of face masks as claimed scientific evidence showed facial protection can reduce the risk of someone who has yet to show COVID-19 symptoms or who is asymptomatic from transmitting the virus.
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Sadiq Khan has been calling for widespread use of face masks
Sadiq Khan insisted he is urging for the use of facial protection rather than medical gear
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Mr Khan however insisted he is not advising for the use of medical personal protection equipment (PPE) as he agreed the misuse of the gear could be counteproductive.
The Mayor of London said: “The advice from the World Health Organisation, Public Health England and others is that the use of personal protective equipment should only be in care settings.
“One of the reasons is that it gives you a false sense of security but also, if used wrongly, it can be counterproductive.
“This is different, this is non-medical facial covering but the advice is still there to be followed which is to keep your distance and to keep 2m apart.”
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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo advised the public to wear face protection for the time being
He added: “My point is, the evidence around the world is, in those circumstances where it’s not possible for you to keep social distance, then a non-medical facial covering can be of use.
“What we must not do is give the impression it’s now safe to socially interact.”
Mr Khan has been facing criticism throughout the coronavirus pandemic and has been urged to follow measures other cities around the world have adopted in a bid to slow the spread of the virus.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has repeatedly been asked whether the UK will be following in the footsteps of other countries who have now advised the public to wear facial protection in public.
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The coronavirus pandemic spurred many countries into adopting social distancing measures
Speaking to Peston on Wednesday, Mr Hancock said: “The advice on the general wearing of masks for the population was looked into by the World Health Organisation last week.
“The reason why we follow the scientific advice is that it’s really important to get things right because masks are, globally, in short supply.”
The WHO reviewed evidence on the safe use of PPE among the public and concluded only those in direct contact with Covid-19 patients, or those experiencing symptoms, should be made to wear medical face masks.
But countries like Germany and France, as well as the state of New York, have been advising the public to wear non-medical facial protection when they are outside.