US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention advises all Americans to wear masks outdoors

3 April 2020, 17:51

A woman wears a self-sewn protective face mask
A woman wears a self-sewn protective face mask. Picture: Getty

By Matt Drake

The US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention has advised all Americans to wear face masks while outdoors, but the guidance in the UK remains unchanged.

President Donald Trump said the measures would not be compulsory but residents in New York have been urged to cover their faces in public.

Dr Anthony Fauci said he thinks all states should issue stay-at-home orders, as the US death toll passed 6,000.

Speaking to CNN, he said: "I don't understand why that's not happening.

"If you look at what's going on in this country, I just don't understand why we're not doing that.

"You've got to put your foot on the accelerator to bring that number down."

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he has not been advised to change the UK's approach to members of the public wearing masks. At today's press conference on coronavirus the public was told the guidance is that masks are not required.

Speaking to Good Morning Britain, Mr Hancock said: "Masks are very important to protect healthcare workers… but that (asking the public to wear them) isn’t something that we’ve done here because we’ve followed the advice and we’ve followed the medical and scientific advice and the whole basis of our response has been making sure that we follow the science.”

Both the CDC and the World Health Organisation are reassessing guidance on face masks as experts race to find ways to fight the recent Covid-19 outbreak.

The virus is carried in airborne droplets from people coughing or sneezing but there is dispute as to whether masks are even effective.

According to the WHO, ordinary face masks are only effective if combined with careful hand-washing and social-distancing.

So far, it has not recommended them generally for healthy people.

But some experts say there are benefits and argue the public use of masks can help by preventing asymptomatic patients from unknowingly spreading the virus to others.