Face masks not yet compulsory, usefulness not proven: RIVM 

Photo credit: Pexels.com/Polina Tankilevitch

RIVM sees no reason yet to make it compulsory to wear a face mask outside public transport. There are indications that non-medical face masks can stop virus particles. However, RIVM believes there’s is still no hard evidence that using it in public places prevents infections.

A RIVM spokesperson states that new research is continuously being evaluated. “So far, there is no reason to change the advice.”

Experts divided

It is perhaps the most discussed topic of the last few days: the face masks. Does that help in the fight against the coronavirus or not?

Mayors are asking to consider the decision; shopkeepers with to go forward with it and a majority of the Lower House wants a new opinion from the Outbreak Management Team (OMT) on face masks. Minister De Jonge (Public Health) has asked four experts to evaluate the corona measures in our country. They’re also asking for compulsory face masks in the hospitality industry and in the contact professions.

According to a survey by the NOS, the experts are completely divided among themselves about the usefulness and disadvantage of the use of face masks.

Face masks not compulsory yet
Photo credit: pixels.com, Anna Shvets

Feeling of false security

One of the advantages is that non-medical masks may somewhat limit the spread of the virus, where following other measures are difficult. According to the OMT, the masks can also make one more aware of the rules. But the opposite effect can also occur: a feeling of false security can lead to more infections, if people wearing face masks forego to follow other rules. The first meeting of the OMT is going to take place at end of August.

Protecting others

Microbiologist Alexander Friedrich of the UMCG in Groningen finds it useful to wear non-medical face masks in public indoor areas. “This can be temporarily and locally restricted, or, when necessary, nationwide.” He refers to the favourable experiences in the German town of Jena. “The main purpose of face masks is to protect others.” However, that by itself is not the solution.”You have to apply it in combination with other measures. Keeping 1.5 meter distance remains important. Wearing a mask can act as a signal, reminding us to stick to those measures.”

Heiman Wertheim, microbiologist Radboudumc
Professor of Medical Microbiology Heiman Wertheim of the Radboudumc is against wearing face masks in public spaces. “Young people probably won’t wear face masks. A restaurant or café with face masks doesn’t seem feasible to me either. I think it’s especially useful if people keep their distance, stay at home when they’re sick and test.”

There are no good studies yet on wearing masks in public space, Wertheim believes.

face Masks not yet compulsory
Photo Credit: pixels.com, Anna Shvets

Making a difference

Face masks don’t offer full protection, but they can make a difference. Ben Cowling is a Hong Kong University epidemiologist. He says there’s solid evidence that face masks  prevent infected people from spreading the virus. It also prevents people from being infected by others.

However, the three studies on which he relies do not seem to be conclusive.

Fine droplets

Face masks are a good way to ensure that fewer drops of virus particles end up in indoor spaces. This is what professor Detlev Lohse of fluid physics believes. Together with colleagues at the UMCG, he’s researching on the role of fine droplets in the spread of the virus.

Source: NOS.nl

Translation: Chaitali Sengupta, who gives ONLINE Inburgering classes.



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