Transport workers, shopkeepers, carers and supermarket staff should all wear face masks while working to protect them from COVID-19, according to the British Medical Association (BMA).
Speaking to the Daily Telegraph newspaper, the chairman of the doctors’ union, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, said: “Common sense tells you that a barrier between people must offer a level of protection, however small. The Government must pursue all avenues of reducing the spread of infection.
“Until sufficient supplies of PPE are provided, including the essential availability of face masks for health and care staff, this may mean initially wearing cloth masks and scarves.”
At the moment, in the UK it is not compulsory for members of the public to wear masks or face coverings when they leave their homes to ensure there are enough supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers.
But Dr NagPaul has said that “emerging evidence” has indicated that it might be beneficial to ask people to “wear face coverings to cover mouths and noses” when they are in public.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan agrees and has suggested that members of the public adopt some kind of face covering to add “another layer of protection” from COVID-19.
Since the coronavirus outbreak began, official guidance from the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that only those who are sick and show symptoms of the killer virus or people who are caring for people who are suspected to have the condition should wear a face mask.
More than 30 countries, including Germany, have made wearing face masks mandatory in public spaces to protect from COVID-19.
But just last week Health Secretary Matt Hancock rejected suggestions that introducing face masks could be the answer to prevent the spread.
Speaking at the daily press briefing, he said: “We follow the science, throughout this, building on that science, and the science develops as we learn more about the virus.
“As for making sure that we are ready for any changes in the science, many countries have been buying face masks as have we, and the position on face masks is unchanged. Of course, the science on that is being reviewed and we’ll consider updated scientific advice as and when we need to.”