April 10, 2020 • Reading time 2 minutes

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Published 11 April 2020

What two things connect Singapore and Austria?

They’ve started to end their lockdowns, and both require citizens to wear face masks. 

“But face masks don’t work unless they are the FFP3 ones, which are in short supply and needed for medical staff.”
“Children will be scared by people wearing masks.”

As Trish Greenhalgh highlighted in a recent paper, there is a prudent necessity to wearing a mask. Maybe it works, perhaps it doesn’t, but why not wear one if it might work and save lives.

Honestly, it seems evident to me – if everyone wears one then when someone carrying the virus coughs or sneezes on public transport, it will go less far. The alternative is something akin to the choir practice in America that ended with 45 getting infected and sadly, two lives lost.

Covid-19 doesn’t discriminate on income and wealth, but the economic lockdown does – quite dramatically in some areas. Something for this bank holiday: a DIY mask-making video from the Centre for Disease Control in America that shows how to make one at home from an old t-shirt. Making people wear masks can, unfortunately sometimes go too far.

The jump from being a non-mask wearing society that stigmatises masks (which puts off even symptomatic people from wearing them) to one that embraces the mask could be a fashion revolution. My friend Ralu tells me that Gucci tried (and failed) two seasons ago, although Marine Serre has a more functional mask (to be expected at £415) that is currently sold out.


Edge Health are a specialist UK healthcare analytics consultancy that use data and insights to improve the delivery of health and care services, so that better outcomes can be delivered more efficiently.