It is time we made masks compulsory | Letters

Countries where face mask use is widespread have seen fewer Covid-19 deaths, writes Prof David Smith, while Philip Rundall thinks shops should do more to encourage customers to wear them

Your comment (Editorial, 2 July) that disparagement of face masks might have come at a cost is well illustrated by comparing different countries. In Hong Kong (population 7.45 million), a survey in March found that 98.8% wore masks in public; just seven people have died from Covid-19 there since the start of the pandemic. Austria (population 8.9 million) adopted early on a rule that face masks must be worn and has had 706 deaths. By contrast, in the UK, the use of masks is very rare, and there have been 44,198 deaths. A recent modelling study supports the view that the universal wearing of face masks is crucial to reduce the spread of this disease. A key message is “my mask protects you, your mask protects me”.
Prof David Smith
Gothenburg, Sweden

• I very much support the case for the compulsory wearing of face masks in public spaces, and I’m wondering whether shops might offer a small discount for those who take the trouble to protect their staff by wearing them. On a recent visit to a supermarket I was struck by how few people were wearing masks.
Philip Rundall
Cambridge

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