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Coronavirus: Hertfordshire public health director Jim McManus issues advice on face coverings

New advice for Hertfordshire residents on wearing face coverings in public has been issued by the county council today (Wednesday, May 20).

The move follows Government guidance that a mask should be worn in enclosed spaces where social distancing may not always be possible.

Professor Jim McManus, director of public health at Hertfordshire County Council, said: "Remember, face coverings do not replace social distancing, good handwashing and good hygiene (coughing and sneezing into a tissue, disposing of tissues immediately and washing hands) as these are the most important and effective measures that we can all adopt to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Wearing a face covering is not an alternative to any of these precautions.

Makeshift masks should be worn in enclosed spaces where social distancing is not possible (34956128)
Makeshift masks should be worn in enclosed spaces where social distancing is not possible (34956128)

"We are urging people not to buy the surgical face masks or respirators worn by front-line workers in health and care settings because these are prioritised for those who are working in environments where the risk is greatest.

"People who have been advised to use surgical face masks or respirators by Public Health England, their health or care employers or the Hertfordshire Public Health Team should continue to use these."

A face covering is made of cloth or other textiles and covers the nose and mouth; for example, a simple scarf or bandana which can be breathed through comfortably.

Safe use of such masks is crucial. Users must wash their hands or use hand sanitiser before putting on a face covering, taking it off, washing it and storing it. The advice is to avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth at all times and to store used face coverings in a plastic bag until they can be washed. Clean any surfaces the covering has come into contact with and launder the mask after each use, using normal detergent.

The Government has advised that face coverings "do not need to be worn outdoors, while exercising, in schools, in workplaces such as offices and retail".

They are not recommended for those who may find them difficult to wear, such as children under two, primary school-age children who cannot use them without assistance or those who may have problems breathing while wearing one.

The council advises that if people choose to wear a face covering in offices, schools or outdoors, their wishes should be respected and it does not indicate they are unwell or that there is an increased risk from that individual.

Anyone with symptoms of Covid-19 should self-isolate along with other members of their household, follow the 'stay at home' guidance and get tested as soon as possible if eligible. See https://www.gov.uk/apply-coronavirus-test.

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