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Face masks at home: The latest sign that public health officials have lost any sense of perspective

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Anyone who’s followed the demands of public health authorities in recent years will know that no level of restriction on personal autonomy is ever enough. There’s always another big idea that will save us from ourselves. To tackle obesity, for example, it’s never sufficient to tell people to eat less and move more. In the UK, we've had taxes on sugary drinks, restrictions on the size of chocolate bars and other snacks, and endless nagging campaigns. So, it’s no surprise that once a government starts to make face masks mandatory in one place, it soon deems it necessary to wear them in other places.

For months, the UK government held the line that the evidence on the effectiveness of masks in controlling Covid-19 was weak. Indeed, following the line from the World Health Organization, senior health officials argued that routinely wearing a mask was not only useless but could make matters worse. The virus is too small to be stopped by anything but the most non-porous masks, we were assured. Moreover, untrained people wearing a flimsy ‘surgical’ mask or a simple cloth mask would inevitably fiddle with them, it was suggested. If they happened to be infected themselves, they could touch the mask and then touch other surfaces, infecting those surfaces with the virus.

Since the early days of the pandemic, some have argued that this advice was wrong. Face masks, they said, could be useful. In June, the World Health Organization amended its advice to say face masks were advisable in situations where social distancing was impossible, such as on crowded public transport. While the UK government then made regulatory the wearing of masks on trains, Tubes and buses, it seemed less than convinced that they should be worn in shops or........

© RT.com

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