Plaid Cymru have called on the Welsh Government to make the wearing of face masks mandatory in public spaces, as two new reports suggested they slowed the spread of coronavirus.
Plaid Cymru Shadow Health Minister Rhun ap Iorwerth MS has said there was growing scientific evidence that suggests the risk of transmission is lowered with face coverings.
He said Wales should follow Scotland and make face masks compulsory on public transport and in shops and called on the Welsh Government to provide a “clear and unambiguous directive” on making face masks mandatory.
“Evidence continues to grow about the effectiveness of face coverings in limiting the transmission of the Coronavirus,” Rhun ap Iorwerth said.
“Just as Scotland has now made face masks compulsory in shops and public transport, Welsh Government should provide a clear, unambiguous directive and make the wearing of face coverings a requirement in certain public places.
“We cannot become complacent as more restrictions are eased. The battle to bring down the transmission rate and stamp out the virus continues, and face coverings have a part to play in that.“
Today Professor Sir Venki Ramakrishnan, president of the Royal Society, said “everyone” should carry a face covering when they leave home in order to tackle coronavirus and that they should be worn “whenever you are in crowded public spaces”.
The Royal Society, Britain’s national academy of sciences, issued two separate reports that emphasised the benefits of face masks for reducing the risk of infection both for the wearer and for people around them.
“The UK is way behind many countries in terms of wearing masks and issuing clear policies and guidelines about mask wearing for the public,” said Venki Ramakrishnan. “The public have taken to handwashing and distancing but remain sceptical about face coverings.
“You only need to go on public transport, where they are supposed to be mandatory, to see how many people are ignoring this new rule based on the growing body of evidence that wearing a mask will help protect others — and might even protect you.”
The first report is a new review of scientific research on mask wearing from around the world. “The evidence for the benefit of wearing face coverings in protecting others from infection is becoming clearer all the time,” said its co-author, Paul Edelstein of the University of Pennsylvania.
“In fact, we have now identified convincing decades-old and apparently forgotten evidence, from the time when surgical masks were made of cloth and were reusable, showing that they help to prevent transmission of airborne infectious agents,” he said.