Face mask-wearing should continue forever to fight diseases, says scientist

Face masks and some social distancing measures should continue "forever", a top scientist on the Sage committee has said.

Professor Susan Michie claims some measures adopted to tackle Covid-19 might be useful for suppressing other viruses like flu, the Independent reports.

The UCL professor who helps advise the UK government in their covid measures said people might check they had one with them before leaving the house and that it would not be a "huge big deal".

Professor Michie told Channel 5: "I think there are lots of different behaviours we’ve changed in our lives. We now routinely wear seat belts, we didn’t use to.

"We now routinely pick up dog poo in the parks, we didn’t use to. When people see that there is a threat and there is something they can do to reduce that… [to] themselves, their loved ones and their communities, what we see now over this last year is people do that.

"That is the behaviour of social distancing, of when you're indoors, making sure there's good ventilation or if it's not, wearing face masks, of hands and surface hygiene.

"We will need to keep this going in the long term and that will be good not only for Covid but also to reduce other diseases."

When she was asked how long she thought measures might continue, she said: "I think forever, to some extent."

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PM Boris Johnson plans to end all legal restrictions on coronavirus on June 21 under its Covid roadmap, though it could be delayed due to fears over the rising Indian variant cases. An announcement is due on Monday, June 14.

The proposed date for the unlocking will see the end of social distancing and mask-wearing conditions of the lockdown.

However, doctors in the US have suggested that masks could be worn during the annual flu season.

Voluntary mask-wearing has been relatively common on public transport in some east Asian countries since the 2003 SARS outbreak.

The use of masks, which is widely accepted in countries such as China and Japan, has been used as protection from flu, pollen allergies, and other purposes even before the pandemic began.

It is seen as a standard practice on public transportation, inside stores, at work, or school.

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