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17 Apr, 2020 11:36

Sadiq Khan’s call for compulsory face masks on London transport provokes both fury and praise

Sadiq Khan’s call for compulsory face masks on London transport provokes both fury and praise

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has urged the UK government to make wearing face masks on public transport in the capital compulsory during the Covid-19 crisis, putting him at odds with UK health advisers and dividing public opinion.

During an interview with Sky News on Friday, the mayor of London claimed that “the evidence around the world is that this [face masks] is effective.” He referenced countries such as the USA, Canada, Germany and South Korea, all of whom are currently advising their citizens to wear face masks during the coronavirus pandemic.

What I’m lobbying for is for when it comes to those circumstances where it’s just not possible to keep your public distance, think of public transport, think of a shop, for people to wear a non-medical facial covering.

Khan gave examples such as bandanas, scarves and reusable masks as possible options to “stop people spreading the virus if they're pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic.”

The intervention comes after the news that 20 London bus workers have lost their lives due to the deadly disease wreaking havoc across the nation. It puts Khan at odds with the UK government and their health officials’ advice, who so far have contended that there is not enough evidence to suggest face masks are effective at suppressing the spread of Covid-19 in non-care settings.

Furthermore, it would appear that the mayor has performed a major U-turn on protective equipment in a matter of days. During an interview on ITV's ‘Good Morning Britain’ on April 8, he insisted that both Public Health England and the World Health Organization (WHO) had told him that personal protective equipment (PPE) should only be used in “care settings” – and that’s the advice he was following.

The big shift has riled many on social media, who are angry that Khan was advocating what he appeared to be dead against not that long ago, with one commenter asking: “Why can’t politicians just be honest?” Others suggested that PPE should be prioritized for healthcare workers not the general public, due to the shortage of supplies, and some recommended that Khan leave such advice to the scientists.

However, he was also branded “brave” for his proposal, with some saying the government should make reusable masks available to every citizen.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab announced on Thursday that the UK government was extending its coronavirus lockdown measures for at least three more weeks. The decision came as the UK's coronavirus death toll reached 13,729, according to the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) tracker – ranking fifth globally, behind only the US, Italy, Spain and France.

Also on rt.com UK lockdown to be extended by at least 3 weeks amid Covid-19 fears

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