Dr Hilary warns public wearing face masks could stop people following hygiene rules

22 April 2020, 09:08 | Updated: 22 April 2020, 10:15

Dr Hilary has questioned how helpful masks are in fighting coronavirus
Dr Hilary has questioned how helpful masks are in fighting coronavirus. Picture: ITV/Getty
Alice Dear

By Alice Dear

Good Morning Britain's resident doctor, Dr Hilary, told viewers that people wearing masks to protect themselves from coronavirus could become 'complacent' over other hygiene rules.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused many members of the public to turn to face masks when they go out shopping for essentials or exercising, even though there is no concrete evidence to prove they work.

With some experts calling for the entire UK population to wear masks when outside their homes, there has been a huge split in opinion over whether masks work and if people should be turning to them for protection.

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Appearing on Good Morning Britain, Dr Hilary made it clear that he doesn't think everyone should be forced to wear masks.

Dr Hilary questioned whether people wearing masks are being given a false sense of security
Dr Hilary questioned whether people wearing masks are being given a false sense of security. Picture: ITV

He told Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid that as well as the evidence for the masks not being clear, they may give some people a "false sense of security", which could cause them to stop being as vigilant with hygiene rules.

Dr Hilary explained: "As we've heard, the evidence is certainly not clear.

"Even if a mask, when you're coughing, restricts the number of droplets by 95 per cent, the five per cent could still infect somebody.

"So if you're wearing a bandana, does it give you a false sense of security? Does it stop you from washing your hands? Does it make you complacent so you don't use hand sanitiser, do you put your hands to your face?"

Dr Hilary said people could become complacent when it comes to following hygiene rules such as washing hands and touching their faces
Dr Hilary said people could become complacent when it comes to following hygiene rules such as washing hands and touching their faces. Picture: ITV

He went on: "Does it really stop the virus that might be airborne from coming down through the gaps in the mask around the nose and cheeks?

"I think it might give people a precautionary sense of reassurance, but I'm not sure the science is there yet."

Dr Claudia Paoloni argued that "just because the evidence doesn&squot;t strongly support something, doesn&squot;t mean it&squot;s ineffective"
Dr Claudia Paoloni argued that "just because the evidence doesn't strongly support something, doesn't mean it's ineffective". Picture: ITV

Also appearing on the show was Dr Claudia Paoloni, who believes that masks could be helpful to the UK, especially when we come out of lockdown.

Dr Claudia argued that "just because the evidence doesn't strongly support something, doesn't mean it's ineffective".

She went on: "If you actually look at the scientific logic, or the mathematical logic, capturing the respiratory droplets is a vital part of the things that you have to do to control the virus."

Dr Hilary said the evidence is "certainly not clear" when it comes to the masks
Dr Hilary said the evidence is "certainly not clear" when it comes to the masks. Picture: ITV

Considering Dr Hilary's points about people becoming complacent about hygiene, she said: "Of course it doesn't stop you from needing to wash your hands, and doesn't stop you from needing to avoid touching your face, all of those things are really important.

"But, I do think you can educate people in how to use this. And the whole mask will only work in the community if everybody uses it, so everyone would have to use it and everyone would have to use it properly. There would be an education that would need to go around."

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