No decision on mandatory face masks – but ‘no strong scientific evidence’ say experts

A team of experts has been evaluating the scientific research about the effectiveness of wearing a nose and mouth covering to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

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File picture of woman wearing anti-pollution / anti-germ face mask / Credit: iStock

A study commissioned by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health about the use of face masks during the coronavirus pandemic has been completed by experts and is ready to be submitted to the government.

At a Friday afternoon press conference experts said they evaluated five different scientific studies about the effectiveness of face masks – which cover nose and mouth – and four of those studies found that face masks did not affect the spread of the virus.

Emeritus Professor Marjukka Mäkelä says that from the research, it is not clear that using masks provides a significant benefit. However, the professor adds that it doesn’t mean they are useless.

Use of face masks for the general public has varied from country to country. In some Asian countries, and in southern and central Europe, their use is widespread; whereas in other parts of Europe less so – although it is recommended to wear masks on public transport in some EU countries.

Chief of Staff at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health Kirsi Varhila says that companies can make their customers wear masks – this is something Finnair has done, for example – but the company should then provided the masks.

New survey tests public opinion

A new survey published Friday by Helsingin Sanomat finds that 21% of Finns want face masks to be made compulsory, while 18% say they hope authorities don’t make them mandatory.

But the biggest number 48% say they don’t need special official guidance on the matter as they can make up their minds themselves if they want to wear a mask or not.

The survey found that just 8% of people say they currently use face masks in public places, and are more commonly used by people over 70 years old.

The survey was carried out by Kantar TNS and questioned 1,009 people aged 18 and over between 22nd and 27th May.