Not all face coverings as effective as others, Oxford University study finds

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Different rules on face coverings are being introduced across the UK in a bid to halt the spread of coronavirus.

In England, it will be mandatory to wear one in shops and supermarkets from July 24 – a rule that is already in place in Scotland. In Wales, they will be compulsory on public transport from July 27 and that’s already the case in Northern Ireland.

The guidelines come as a new report shows that not all face coverings are as effective as others in reducing the spread of Covid-19, reports the Manchester Evening News.

Scientists from Oxford University’s Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science have studied different face mask types and coverings, along with a comparison of policies and behavioural factors underlying usage around the world.

Professor Melinda Mills, director of the Leverhulme Centre and author of the study, said: “The general public does not need to wear surgical masks or respirators. We find that masks made from high-quality material such as high-grade cotton, multiple layers and particularly hybrid constructions are effective.

“For instance, combining cotton and silk or flannel provide over 95 per cent filtration, so wearing a mask can protect others.”

The report, which was published last week by the British Academy and the Royal Society as part of Royal Society’s SET-C (Science in Emergencies Tasking – Covid-19) group, said wearers are also protected by cotton masks – combining all research on cloth masks in a new meta-analysis.

“Attention must also be placed on how well it fits on the face; it should loop around the ears or around the back of the neck for better coverage,” Prof Mills added.

But the study has found that some coverings are not as effective as others. Loosely-woven fabrics, such as scarves, were shown to be the least effective.

While it is already compulsory for travellers to wear a covering on public transport in England, shoppers will also have to do so from July 24. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said anyone failing to comply could face a fine of up to £100.

The new rule comes after confusion over whether the UK Government planned to introduce it after Prime Minister Boris Johnson said they were looking at “stricter” rules.

Then senior Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said on Sunday he did not believe they should be mandatory and it was better to “trust people’s common sense”.

Prof Mills added: “The evidence is clear that people should wear masks to reduce virus transmission and protect themselves, with most countries recommending the public to wear them.”



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