LONDON Tube and bus passengers may be told to wear high-grade face masks over fears cloth coverings don’t stop mutant strains.
The city’s mayor Sadiq Khan and Transport for London have launched reviews of the advice for mask-wearing in the capital.
Tube passengers may need to wear high-filtration masks like this oneCredit: Jamie Lorriman
Cloth masks like the one pictured left are not as effective at stopping the spread of CovidCredit: Getty Images – Getty
The ‘Kent strain’ of the virus is believed to be so contagious that cloth and homemade masks may not be effective at stopping it from spreading.
High-filtration masks are now being considered, the Evening Standard reported.
These masks stop larger particles from passing through them but are more expensive and harder to breathe through.
Cloth and homemade masks don’t filter out Covid-19 but help to reduce the spread by limiting the particle spray from coughing and sneezing.
A mayoral spokesperson said: “The Mayor is determined that Londoners are given the most accurate and up-to-date scientific advice in our fight against the virus.
“Germany, France and Austria have all recently introduced stricter requirements for face coverings, and it may be necessary to introduce tougher measures here to stop the spread of the new variant, particularly in poorly ventilated locations.
“TfL have asked Public Health England for their advice on face covering specifications for use on the transport system, and the Mayor will ask London’s Covid-19 Scientific and Technical Advisory Cell to analyse the latest evidence if required.”
Staff on public transport in London use four-layer surgical masks.
High-filtration masks include the N95, which claims to filter out 95 per cent of particles in the air.
According to a study in the Emerging Infectious Diseases journal published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US, the “effectiveness of cloth masks is generally lower than that of medical masks”.
“During a pandemic, cloth masks may be the only option available, however, they should be used as a last resort when medical masks and respirators are not available,” researchers found.
Despite mutant strains wreaking havoc in London and the South East of England at the end of December, Covid cases are now plunging in the capital.
Infections in parts of London are falling by up to half in just one week, figures revealed today.
Data released this morning shows cases have dropped by 50.1 per cent in one of the most deprived boroughs – Tower Hamlets in East London – in the week to January 29.
Cases had dropped by 746 meaning the current figure for the borough is 742.
Other boroughs to experience a dramatic reduction in Covid-19 cases include Greenwich (46.4 per cent), Hackney (45.1 per cent), City of London (45.1 per cent) and Waltham Forest (44.2 per cent).
Camden saw its cases drop by 43 per cent, while others including Redbridge (42.6 per cent), Croydon (41.9 per cent) and Barnet (41.5 per cent) all experienced dramatic reductions.
However, wealthy boroughs did not see cases drop as much as some of the less affluent areas.
The R rate – which represents the number of people an infected person will pass Covid onto – was said to be between 0.7 and 1.1, Sage said last week.
In London, however, the R rate may even be as low as 0.6, while in the South East and East it could be down to 0.7.
Covid cases are falling as lockdown takes effect