Skip to main content

Coronavirus: Protective Clothing

Question for Department of Health and Social Care

UIN 75984, tabled on 17 July 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment his Department has made of the efficacy of routinely available, non-clinical face masks in preventing aerosol spread of viruses.

Answered on

5 August 2020

In June 2020 Public Health England conducted a rapid evidence review on the efficacy of different types of face coverings designed for use in community settings, and the effectiveness of face coverings to reduce the spread of SARS-CoV2 in the community.

The review found evidence from eight laboratory studies that materials commonly used in non-medical masks such as cotton and polyester may block droplets with a filtering efficiency similar to medical masks when folded in two or three layers. This evidence was limited by variations in materials, study design and testing methods, and judged to be weak.

The review identified evidence from epidemiological and modelling studies that mask wearing in the community may contribute to reducing the spread of COVID-19, but again the evidence was limited by study design and quality.

‘Face coverings in the community and COVID-19: a rapid review’ is available to view at the following link: