Matt Hancock says evidence public should wear facemasks is "extremely weak"

24 April 2020, 09:37

By Adrian Sherling

The Health Secretary has told LBC that the science around wearing facemasks is weak and the government currently have no plans to make wearing them compulsory.

It is now mandatory to wear facemasks on public transport in the majority of Germany and many scientists have said wearing them may help slow the spread of coronavirus.

But speaking to Nick Ferrari on LBC, Matt Hancock suggested there is not enough evidence that it is worthwhile.

He insisted: "The government position hasn't changed. We of course look at the scientific evidence all the time.

"On masks, as more information comes through, the science is constantly evolving and we always bear in mind that science when we make our decision. As of today, the government position is unchanged.

Matt Hancock said the evidence on wearing facemasks is extremely weak
Matt Hancock said the evidence on wearing facemasks is extremely weak. Picture: PA / LBC

"We've got to make sure that people who really need the high-end surgical masks and clinical masks get them.

"It is absolutely clear that if you're working in a hospital or in a care home, then there's a need for a mask, so we've got to make sure that's the top priority, especially when the evidence of the use of masks by the general public is extremely weak."

Nick questioned whether that meant he don't have enough top end masks available, but the Health Secretary said: "That's not how I'm putting it. It's that we've got to make sure that they are prioritised, but also you've got to follow the evidence in terms of how effective mask wearing is."

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The Secretary of State said it is “too early” to safely lift the lockdown measures and that we need to get the number of new cases “much, much lower” before they can be eased.

He said: "The truth is that it is too early, safely, to lift the lockdown measures.

“The number of deaths is lower, it was lower yesterday than the day before and that’s good, but is still too high.

“It comes back to the testing as well – to be able to hold down this virus using testing and contact tracing, we need to get the number of new cases much, much lower and then we can hold it down whilst releasing more of the social distancing measures.”