Wearing a mask doesn’t protect people from catching COVID-19, and wearing them gives a “false sense of security,” the prime minister of Sweden says.
Many countries across Europe are demanding citizens wear face masks in public areas, but Sweden has opted against that edict.
“There is a risk of a false sense of security, that you believe that you can’t be infected if you wear a face mask,” Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said.
“Face masks in public spaces do not provide any greater protection to the population,” the Nordic country’s Public Health Agency’s (PHA) general director Johan Carlson said at a press conference on Wednesday.
Swedish health and other top government officials say that wearing a face mask could make people ignore social distancing rules. And they say that anyone infected with the virus can still transmit it, even with a mask on.
Instead, officials say washing hands, not touching your face, staying at home if sick, and social distancing are the best ways to limit the spread of COVID-19.
In fact, the PHA says wearing a face mask increases the odds of the wearer touching his or her face. “The virus can gather in the mask and when you take it off, the virus can be transferred to your hands and thereby spread further,” Sweden’s state epidemiologist Dr. Anders Tegnell told SVT.
“Face masks can be effective against larger free-floating particles [connected to air pollution], but nothing suggests that they help protect you from airborne viruses,” Tegnell said.