Should we all now wear a face mask? WHO official explains latest advice

15 April 2020, 13:59 | Updated: 15 April 2020, 14:01

By Fiona Jones

Should we all now wear a face mask? WHO official explains the latest advice and predicts what the regulation will be once the lockdown is eased.

Chief medical officer Sir Patrick Vallance announced on Monday that the government is reviewing the use of face masks, which are not currently mandatory to wear, and will make recommendations accordingly depending on the outcome.

World Health Organisation official Dr David Nabarro told LBC that before we can consider mass wearing of masks in the UK, face masks should be considered "piece by piece" and must go to the health workers first.

"Without them, they are at risk. There is a global shortage, they must be prioritised," he said.

"Face protection needs to be worn by people who have symptoms of the disease or suspect they might have symptoms of the disease. That stops them spreading it."

"Thirdly people whose occupations require them to be up close to other people, whether it's working in supermarkets, hairdressing or similar things. They may well wish to wear face protection and I believe they should. You never know who might have the Covid.

"I think the wider population on many countries now are wearing face masks," Dr Nabarro continued, "we saw it in South East Asia after the SARS of 2003.

"I personally will be wearing a mask when lockdown's released because I'm 70 and I've got blood pressure that is controlled so I do believe that there should be wider wearing of masks."

He said that there cannot be a blanket recommendation for the whole world as governments must make their own judgement.

"I do believe, as I've said before, that we'll move towards widespread wearing of masks while the Covid virus is still roaming around our communities."

As Spain partially reopens, police officers have been seen handing out face masks and the same is reportedly taking place in Italy.

In Europe, some countries have made wearing face masks mandatory including Czech Republic and Germany.

United States health officials are also encouraging masks or face cloths to help contain the country's escalating outbreak, as well as Asian countries including mainland China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Japan, Thailand and Taiwan.