United Kingdom

Sage scientist says face masks should continue ‘forever’ – are face masks here to stay?

A senior scientific advisor to the Government has said that face masks should continue well into the future, possibly forever. Professor Susan Michie has suggested the measures introduced to control the coronavirus crisis should be retained to help suppress other viruses and boost public health.

Professor Michie told Channel 5: “That is the behaviour of social distancing, of when you’re indoors, making sure there’s good ventilation or if it’s not, wearing face masks, of hands and surface hygiene.

“We will need to keep this going in the long term and that will be good not only for Covid, but also to reduce other diseases”.

Asked in follow-up questions about how long she thought the measures should continue, she said: “I think forever, to some extent.”

Later asked whether she thought the proposal was realistic, she cited several key changes made over the years that have improved public safety.

The Prime Minister is facing mounting pressure to delay the near-full unlocking of the country, however, as cases of the Delta variant rise quickly in several parts of England.

A two-week delay until July 5 has been under discussion by scientists and civil servants.

Boris Johnson expected to update parliament on the decision on Monday.

Mr Johnson said on June 9: “On Monday… we’ll have a look at where we are. I think what everybody can see very clearly is that cases are going up, and in some cases hospitalisations are going up.

“What we need to assess is the extent to which the vaccine rollout, which has been phenomenal, has built up protection in the population in order for us to go ahead to the next stage. And so that’s what we’ll be looking at.”

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