MINISTERS are stockpiling masks for Brits to wear as Government prepares to consider changing official health advice, it was confirmed today.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said the UK was trying to get “as many masks as possible” and have been saving them up for weeks.
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Later this week an official decision on facemasks is expected to be taken by the UK Government, and Brits are set to be told to wear them in enclosed spaces or on public transport.
Scotland has already told the public to start wearing them, as they can have an impact on stopping sick people with no symptoms from passing it on.
Mr Wallace said today: “It’s not the amazing thing if you wear a mask that no one’s going to get it but there is obviously this issue about human nature and interactions if you go on public transport and wear a mask will you feel able to go back to work.
“At the same time, to anticipate should different rules be made around masks we’re trying to source as many masks as possible as we speak and have been for the last few weeks.”
The news comes as:
It comes after Micheal Gove revealed that they were looking into building up a supply last week.
He said a “domestic effort” has been launched to slow the spread of coronavirus after he was challenged by Labour’s Rachel Reeves to build a stockpile for the public.
Such masks will be used to “limit the droplets that each of us might be responsible for”, he said.
The Sun previously revealed that scientific experts had changed their advice to Government, but they have been mulling over whether to make a formal change to the advice.
Ministers are concerned that any decision to tell Brits to cover up may stop people from socially distancing, as they feel more confident.
And they are keen that no surgical masks are taken away from NHS staff who need them on the frontline.
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Instead, Brits are set to be told to wear face coverings instead – anything from a home-made cloth mask to covering up with a scarf.
Boris Johnson admitted last week that they would be “useful” in helping the country get back to work.
He said: “I do think face coverings will be useful, both for epidemiological reasons, but also for giving people confidence that they can go back to work.
“And you will hear more about that next week.”
Boris is expected to outline the lockdown release plan later this week, with a possible timetable of how the country can get moving again.
However, experts have stressed that the R rate of transmission must get to the lowest possible number first.
The PM said today: “Thank you for all you’ve been doing to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
“Thanks to all of you I believe we are making progress.
“But we will only be able to move onto the second phase of this conflict when our five tests have been met.
“We must be confident that any adjustments to the current measures will not risk a second peak of infections that overwhelms the NHS.
“Then will be the time to move onto the second phase. The worst thing we can do now is ease up too soon and allow a second peak of the coronavirus.”
Any number above one will mean the virus starts to spread again and cases can soar.
Schools are expected to open again from June, starting with primary schools and then years 12 and taking exams next year.
Yesterday Grant Shapps laid out some of the plans for transport to restart again.
Officials are looking at one-way systems in train stations and hand sanitser on trains as part of moves to open up the system.
But train bosses are concerned they won’t be able to put on enough services, and will be only able to run to 20 per cent of their total capacity if everyone has to stay two metres apart.
Mr Wallace also revealed this morning that the two metre guidelines may be relaxed in workplaces if they are able to use other ways of keeping themselves safe.
He suggested that PPE and shields like for supermarket workers could be used to keep people safely apart.