Jeremy Hunt calls for medical grade face masks to be compulsory

25 January 2021, 06:01

Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt said medical grade face masks are needed
Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt said medical grade face masks are needed. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt has added his voice to those of disease experts calling for medical grade masks to be compulsory on public transport and in shops.

Some epidemiologists fear that cloth masks, which are often home made, are not sufficient to deal with the new strains of Covid-19.

Trisha Greenhalgh, a professor of primary care at the University of Oxford, said "the context has changed" over the course of the pandemic and everyone should be wearing medical-grade coverings.

Prof Greenhalgh tweeted on Sunday: "Double-layer cloth masks seemed OK when a) supplies of PPE were very low, b) virus was less contagious, c) incidence was lower.

"The context has changed. We need to be wearing medical-grade."

Mr Hunt retweeted the post, adding: "I agree."

Read more: Uncertainty remains over when schools will open again

Read more: £23 million funding given to councils to combat Covid misinformation

In an interview with the Observer published on Sunday, the UK's longest-serving health secretary said: "Current lockdown measures are just not working fast enough."

He said he wanted to see FFP2 respirator masks, which filter both the inflow and outflow of air, made compulsory in public spaces such as shops and public transport.

Similar measures have already been imposed in Austria and parts of Germany.

Mr Hunt said: "Last time we waited too long before requiring masks, let's not make the same mistake again."

He also questioned whether the two-metre social distancing rule is sufficient.

American epidemiologist Dr Eric Feigl-Ding, a senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists, is also calling for air filtering masks to mandatory in the US.

He tweeted: "Cloth just isn't enough anymore folks."

Earlier this month, a paramedic told LBC the frustration he feels when he attends calls to Covid-positive patients and they refuse to wear a mask.

John, a paramedic, called LBC's Shelagh Fogarty just after London declared a "major incident" due to a surge in Covid cases.

"The worst thing that happened to me in this," the caller said was the fact he gave Covid to his girlfriend.

The frustrated paramedic said he attended a Covid-positive patient, but he could not understand how a bed-bound dementia patient in a care home was "still getting Covid."

He told LBC when he arrived at the care home one of the staff who escorted him to the Covid-positive patient then "walked straight out" and info the room of someone who was Covid-negative.

Then, amazingly, he revealed to LBC that he attended a call where the patient refused to wear a mask.

"They refused to put a mask on," he told Shelagh, explaining when he tells patients who refuse to wear masks he is going to have to withdraw that they often "become aggressive."

Describing the current situation in the capital as "carnage" the paramedic said he had never seen anything like this before.