MADRID: Galicia’s regional president Feijóo wants more expensive FFP face masks to be mandatory. Experts say homemade and fabric coverings do not provide enough protection. With the emergence of new, more contagious strains of the coronavirus, should FFP2 masks become mandatory?
The pandemic has lasted so long, history is repeating itself. Initially, the topic of face masks raised the necessary discussions about mandatory use. Now, the discussion is focusing on which types of masks work and whether medical grade ones should be obligatory.
In Spain, the authorities initially advised against the use of face masks. It remained unclear whether they would help or even provide a false sense of security. However, as the epidemiological situation continued to deteriorate face masks became obligatory.
Experts now believe that non-medical face masks are unsafe. This is heightened due to the presence of the much more contagious British virus variant in Spain. The question is whether the safer FFP2 face masks should be made compulsory in all public interior spaces, as is now the case in France and Germany.
Galicia wants FFP-2 face masks mandatory throughout Spain
Galicia’s regional president Alberto Núñez Feijóo opened the debate on Wednesday. “It would give confidence if the central government made the FFP2 masks mandatory in certain places and in certain situations. We believe that this requirement must be met, ”he said in his parliament. He also announced that he would like to discuss this topic with Spanish Prime Minister Sánchez next Friday.
Fernando Simón, director of the Health Ministry’s Coordination Center for Health Alerts (CCAES), also advocates the use of FFP2 or FFP3 mouth masks. However, he also approves of the disposable models with the UNE label. The Ministry of Health informed the newspaper El País that no changes are planned yet to the face masks policy.
FFP masks are expensive and potentially pose a new supply problem
Aside from a potential supply problem, the FFP face masks are a lot more expensive than the disposable surgical masks. The FFP masks are safe for a maximum of eight hours, which for intensive users can easily result in a cost of €60 per month. José Jiménez, a researcher at the infectious diseases department in King’s College in London, advises making FFP2 masks compulsory at least in interior spaces; outside, surgical masks would be sufficient. “They [surgical masks] serve to protect those around us, meaning the protection it provides to the person wearing it is very limited,” he says. “But if everyone wore at least surgical masks and used them correctly, the number of infections would fall significantly.”