Wearing face masks may worsen breathing conditions, experts warn

Wearing face masks may worsen breathing conditions, experts warn

The advice contrasts Government guidance that instructs people to wear face masks while also keeping a distance of at least two metres (6’6″) away from each other. Face coverings might make it harder to breathe for people with conditions like asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or cystic fibrosis.

Experts advised to wear a mask as long as they can comfortably breathe while wearing it in order to protect themselves and others from catching the virus.

In its official guidance, Britain’s Cabinet Office now says: “If you can, wear a face covering in an enclosed space where social distancing isn’t possible and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet.

“This is most relevant for short periods indoors in crowded areas, for example, on public transport or in some shops.”

But it warns: “Face coverings should not be used by children under the age of two or those who may find it difficult to manage them correctly. For example, primary age children unassisted, or those with respiratory conditions.”

Asthma UK said: “For some people with asthma, wearing a face covering might not be easy. It could make it feel harder to breathe.

“The government has advised that people with respiratory conditions don’t need to wear face coverings, so if you are finding it hard, then don’t wear one.”

Dr Purvi Parikh, an immunology and infectious disease specialist at New York University, said patients with lung disease, as well as people with skin conditions on their face and neck and patients with dementia may not be able to wear face coverings often.

Dr Parikh told MailOnline: “Those with lung conditions are in a catch-22 because they probably need the mask more than the average person but it can be challenging to breathe.

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Dr Parikh said there is no evidence to suggest that members of the public would use masks heavy duty enough – or wear them for long enough – that they would start to breathe back in carbon dioxide that they had let out.

She added that the general public should not be wearing medical grade masks, and that these should be left for healthcare workers.

The Government has advised that people wear “face coverings” rather than masks.

Scarves, bandanas, cloths and DIY coverings all fall under the “face covering” description.

Health Minister Jo Churchill said: “We are advising people to consider wearing a face covering if they can in enclosed public spaces where social distancing is impossible, for example on public transport or in shops.

“This may help prevent you spreading the virus to others.

“You do not need a clinical mask which is prioritised for our healthcare workers.

“Instead a face covering is sufficient and we encourage people to make these at home with items they will already own.”

Some countries have implemented a regulation for members of the public to wear face coverings when they leave the house to avoid spread.

This regulation is in place in East Asia, Western Europe and Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, Slovakia, with France joining the list last week as authorities require people to wear face coverings in some situations by law.

Published at Tue, 19 May 2020 03:34:00 +0000