Tube and bus passengers in London may be advised to wear medical-grade face masks
Tube and bus passengers in the capital may be advised to wear higher-grade face masks to protect themselves against mutant strains of Covid.
Two reviews of mask advice have been launched by the Mayor and Transport for London as the more infectious ‘Kent strain’ continues to spread through the UK.
The variant is so contagious it is feared cloth masks and bandanas may no longer be effective.
Transport for London (TfL) has asked for guidance from Public Health England in response to the scientific concerns, while Mayor Sadiq Khan is to commission a bespoke analysis of the situation, according to the Evening Standard.
London’s own scientific advisory group on coronavirus will focus on whether the public should be asked to switch from cloth to high-filtration masks.
Several countries have already done this, including France and Germany.
High-filtration masks are disposable, slightly more expensive and more difficult to breathe through, but also stop 95% of airborne particles, drastically reducing a passenger’s likelihood of catching Covid.
Cloth masks are not effective at filtering out the virus, but stop people passing it onto each other by coughing or sneezing.
A spokesperson for the Mayor said: ‘The Mayor is determined that Londoners are given the most accurate and up-to-date scientific advice in our fight against the virus.
‘Germany, France and Austria have all recently introduced stricter requirements for face coverings, and it may be necessary to introduce tougher measures here to stop the spread of the new variant, particularly in poorly ventilated locations.
‘TFL have asked Public Health England for their advice on face covering specifications for use on the transport system, and the Mayor will ask London’s COVID-19 Scientific and Technical Advisory Cell (STAC) to analyse the latest evidence if required.’
TfL staff are already supplied with four-layer surgical masks, so any change in advice would only apply to passengers.
Scientists last month urged Brits to follow Europe’s lead and wear medical-grade masks if they could not social distance.
Germany has already made it compulsory for full protective filtering face piece (FFP) masks to be worn on public transport and in shops, while France has issued a decree forbidding some DIY coverings because they offer inadequate protection.