Expert reveals why wearing masks when we go outside could do more harm than good

should we wear masks

As well as social distancing and washing our hands more often, masks have come become part of the our new normal. But should we be wearing them?

According to Dr Hilary Jones, masks shouldn’t really be a concern right now. Speaking on Good Morning Britain, the GP said they could be doing more than good.

This is because people tend to be more complacent as they think they’re fully protected while wearing one.

Speaking to Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid, he said, “For healthy people who are doing their essential journey and are socially distancing, the use of masks is not effective.

“Most masks have gaps in them to which the virus can drive a bus through. When you are inhaling in a mask the virus can come in.

“It can do harm if you do wear a mask, you adjust it, it gets itchy and moist – which means you are putting your hand to your face more often. If the mask gets moist it traps the virus.”

When Piers interjected to ask if wearing a mask could stop the person wearing it from spreading the virus, Dr Hilary Jones said that while that's the theory, social distancing is thought to be more effective.

“We don’t know how far tidal air can transfer the virus, social distancing by more than two metres is much more important.

“Wearing a mask could make you more complacent, “I’m wearing a mask I don’t need to wash my hands.”

“Psychologically it might make you feel better wearing a mask, but what’s more important is keeping a physical distance. ‘If you want to wear a mask, wear a mask, but there’s no evidence that it’s beneficial”, he added.

Dr Hilary Jones’ recommendations were backed up by Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, deputy chief medical officer for England, in a recent press conference.

He said, “In terms of the hard evidence and what the UK Government recommends, we do not recommend face masks for general wearing by the public.

“This has been a controversial area in public preparedness and planning for the 15 years I have been involved in it. ‘I was on the phone this morning to a colleague in Hong Kong who is a professor there who has done a review for the World Health Organisation on face masks.

"We are of the same mind that there’s no evidence that general wearing of face masks by the public who are well affects the spread of the disease in our society.”

The current World Health Organisation guidance does not recommend that the general public wear masks, unless you’re caring for someone with a suspected infection, or if you’re coughing or sneezing.

It also adds, ‘Masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.’

Mariana Cerqueira

Mariana is the managing editor of woman&home. She has previously worked for lifestyle titles including GoodtoKnow covering all aspects of women’s lifestyle - from the Royal Family, beauty and fashion to wellness and travel. She was nominated for AOP Digital Journalist of the Year in 2020, and for New Digital Talent of the Year at the 2016 PPA Digital Awards. She’s mildly obsessed with TV (reality TV shows included) and spends far too much time planning her next trip away.