Facemasks have become a symbol of the pandemic. In the early stages of the coronavirus crisis, the World Health Organization (WHO) advised people not to wear facemasks. In June, however, the WHO reversed its position in light of “evolving evidence”, and put out guidance suggesting people should wear facemasks in public.
We have learned a lot about the coronavirus. We’ve learned that not only can asymptomatic individuals still be infectious, but also that it’s possible the virus can be spread by tiny particles suspended in air (particularly indoors). So, even if people have no symptoms, they could still be spreading the virus to others when they talk, laugh, sing, cough, sneeze, and so on. The WHO hopes that facemasks could help to reduce the risk of infection by trapping droplets when they leave our airways.
What does the science say? There is mounting scientific evidence that wearing masks could reduce infection rates. Some European countries have already made facemasks compulsory in closed public spaces. On the other hand, some experts warn that making masks mandatory could provoke a public backlash, and that persuasion is a better approach. There are also questions about how enforceable such a policy would be.
Should wearing facemasks in public be compulsory? Could they save lives? Would a mandatory facemask policy be enforceable? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!