Leading doctors are calling on Welsh Government to change their position on face coverings, saying that they should be worn in areas where people cannot socially distance.
British Medical Association (BMA) Cymru Wales council chair, Dr David Bailey, said the union advocates the wearing of face coverings by the Welsh public in areas where they cannot socially distance.
The UK Government announced on Thursday that all passengers on public transport in England must wear a covering from June 15.
Speaking at the Welsh Government’s daily press conference in Cathays Park, First Minister Mark Drakeford said a decision in Wales would be made next week on whether to change its guidance.
Dr Bailey said: “There still remains a considerable risk of infection, and emerging evidence has shown that if mouths and noses are covered when people are in areas where they cannot socially distance, it may help in in controlling the spread of infection of Covid-19 and therefore save lives.
“BMA Cymru Wales is calling on Welsh Government to change their position immediately to lessen the risk of the public spreading the virus.”
He added: “Furthermore, we are calling on Welsh Government to ensure a supply of face coverings for the public, similar to practices in other nations, as there will be circumstances where many individuals may not have the capacity to make them or may be unable to procure them when needed.
“It is sensible that these face coverings are not the same as the medical-grade masks which must be reserved for frontline staff whose job is dependent upon having them for adequate protection.
“The public must be informed and educated on how and when to use face coverings properly and it must be made clear to the public that this does not reduce the need and importance of continued adherence to social distancing and proper hand hygiene.”
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Similarly, Transport for Wales has also called on rail and bus passengers in Wales to “consider” wearing a face mask when it becomes the rule in England.
The World Health Organization (WHO) currently advises that only those who are sick and showing symptoms, and those who are caring for people with suspected coronavirus, should wear protective masks.
It does not usually recommend them for the public because they can be contaminated by other people’s coughs and sneezes, or when putting them on or taking them off.
Speaking during Friday’s press conference, First Minister Mark Drakeford said was only a “marginal public health case” for face masks to stop Covid-19.
He said: “The context for face coverings has changed because of an announcement in England about mandatory face masks on public transport. That will not come in until June 15.
“That gives us a few days here in Wales to consider that changed context.
“We’re not going to rush…we will make a definitive statement in the first part of next week.”
He added: “If you feel comfortable wearing a face mask, there is nothing to stop you using that in Wales.”
Wales’ chief medical officer Dr Frank Atherton has not recommended the compulsory wearing of face coverings, advising they should remain a “matter of personal choice”.