FACE masks must be compulsory to prevent the spread of deadly coronavirus, a group of leading doctors say.
Over 100 medics across the UK are urging the public to either make, or purchase online, their own reusable cotton masks and to wear them every time they leave the house during the pandemic.
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And the doctors have since signed a letter saying they are "increasingly alarmed at official inaction over the need for the public to wear face masks."
Their warning comes ahead of a meeting of the Government's scientific advisers tomorrow to review evidence on whether masks should be mandatory.
While other European countries including Germany, Italy and Spain are now recommending the use of masks, the UK currently does not recommend the routine use of them.
The doctors are backing Masks4AllUK – a movement set up by medical professionals in the wake of the Government’s reluctance to make mass-wearing of facial masks compulsory.
Those who have signed the letter include John Ashton, a former president of the Faculty of Public Health, and Martin McKee, a professor of European public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
Their missive to The Times said: "Official UK policy is illogical… The latest guidance on PPE [personal protective equipment] says that people should wear masks in hospital waiting rooms 'to reduce both direct transmission and environmental contamination'. Why not elsewhere?
"The thousands of coronavirus mutual aid groups could make enough homemade masks for everyone, so it would cost next to nothing.
"Instructions are easily available, for example, at masks4all.org.uk."
A petition has also been started by Masks4All urging the Government to make masks mandatory in the UK.
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The medics are advising people make "reusable cotton masks from simple items you can find in your house", such as scarves or towels.
They say that doing this would not detract from surgical masks for the NHS and other key workers.
The group say they have been inspired by action taken in other countries that have introduced face masks at population level, such as the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Austria.
In particular, they point out that the German city of Jena saw new cases of coronavirus flatline since it brought in compulsory masks on April 6.
Jon Fluxman, a retired GP, who is backing the campaign told The Telegraph it was “striking how countries who adopted masks-for-all are doing so much better than we are”.
Countries who adopted masks-for-all are doing so much better than we are
Dr Fluxman cited the Covid-19 lead doctor in South Korea, which on Saturday had less than ten new cases, “who is very clear that masks-for-all works”.
Martin Yuille, Professor of Virology at Manchester University and backer of Masks4All, added that a mask offered “the possibility of an exit strategy”.
Currently, the World Health Organisation (WHO) says only people who are showing symptoms or caring for coronavirus patients should wear them.
However, WHO's main adviser David Heymann recently said he believes"wearing a mask is equally effective or more effective than distancing."
A review is set to be carried out tomorrow as to whether Brits should be ordered to wear a face mask in public.
Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty recently confirmed that discussions about public use of face masks were a "very live issue."
He added: "What we are really trying to do is to work out under what circumstances, if any, should we extend the advice."
London Mayor Sadiq Khan last week called for Londoners to wear face masks outside – including on public transport.
Mr Khan told BBC Radio 4: "The point I'm making to Government experts and to Government is I think advice should change.
"Advice should change so in those circumstances where it's not possible to keep social distancing – think of public transport, think of when you' re in a shop – we should use non medical facial covering like bandanas, like scarves, like reusable masks."
Mr Khan stressed wearing masks should not replace social distancing, but should be used where people are still having to leave home to go to work.
He added medical grade personal protective equipment should be reserved for health professionals, because "if used wrongly it can be counter-productive."
Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned that members of the public wearing masks risked increasing shortages for NHS staff on the front line.
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Professor Whitty said he remained concerned that advising the public to wear masks could lead to shortages.
NHS heroes fighting on the frontline against coronavirus say they've been forced to buy their own protective equipment from DIY stores.
And data from the NHSppe app, created to track shortages of PPE, found that 52 per cent of doctors lacked the correct gowns for high risk procedures.
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