Good Morning Britain’s Dr Hilary Jones has warned that younger children could spread coronavirus more because of how they wear face masks.
Speaking to Ranvir Singh and Adil Ray on today’s programme, the television doctor discussed whether pupils should wear protective coverings in places where they can’t socially distance when they return to school.
The conversation came hours after Boris Johnson dropped Government advice against pupils wearing face masks in English schools as they go back to the classroom in September.
As a result, face coverings will now be mandatory for children in secondary schools that are in England areas locally locked down. Elsewhere, headteachers will have discretion over whether their schools require them.
Addressing the news, Dr Hilary said: ‘It is sensible to say if you cannot socially distance as you can in a classroom in those corridors and communal areas where the children find it more difficult to socially distance, it makes sense to take the precaution of wearing a face covering.
‘We don’t know what level of protection it offers, but the consensus is it’s going to offer some protection for age groups aged 12 years and above.
‘There’s some evidence that younger children could actually spread the virus more by wearing a mask because of the way they use masks.’
Dr Hilary continued: ‘So we need to get away from the concrete thinking. There is no right or wrong. Nobody really knows what level of protection wearing a face-covering alone is going to make, but it does make sense.
‘ I think on the balance of what we know – for those corridors and communal areas –to make it mandatory.’
The World Health Organisation (WHO) says children aged five years and under should not be required to wear masks. This is based on the safety and overall interest of the child and the capacity to appropriately use a mask with minimal assistance.
WHO and Unicef advise that the decision to use masks for children aged six to 11 should be based on the following factors:
- Whether there is widespread transmission in the area where the child resides
- The ability of the child to safely and appropriately use a mask
- Access to masks, as well as laundering and replacement of masks in certain settings (such as schools and childcare services)
- Adequate adult supervision and instructions to the child on how to put on, take off and safely wear masks
- Potential impact of wearing a mask on learning and psychosocial development, in consultation with teachers, parents/caregivers and/or medical providers
- Specific settings and interactions the child has with other people who are at high risk of developing serious illness, such as the elderly and those with other underlying health conditions
On Wednesday, it was announced that a further 16 people had died with coronavirus, bringing the UK’s death toll to 41,449.
There were 1,184 new cases of the virus in the 24 hours previous, meaning there have been 327,798 confirmed infections across the UK since the start of the pandemic. A further 97 people were also admitted to hospital with the virus.
Good Morning Britain airs weekdays at 6am on ITV.
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