The head of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention has said that people in Europe are wrong not to wear face masks days after Londoners were snapped on the tube without any.
Agency director general George F. Gao said in an interview with ‘Science’, one of the world’s leading academic journals: “The big mistake in the US and Europe, in my opinion, is that people aren’t wearing masks.”
The head of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Chinese CDC) added: “This virus is transmitted by droplets and close contact.
“Droplets play a very important role. You’ve got to wear a mask because when you speak, there are always droplets coming out of your mouth.”
However, the World Health Organization (WHO) has previously said that only people displaying symptoms and those caring for someone with the virus need to wear a face mask.
With most European and North American disease control and prevention centres take a similar view to the WHO, Gao believes people should still wear masks to be on the safe side.
He said: “Many people have asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic infections. If they are wearing face masks, it can prevent droplets that carry the virus from escaping and infecting others.”
On 22nd March, the Chinese CDC suggested that residents do not need to wear face masks while at home, in the open air or in an area with good ventilation and few people.
However, people should still wear them in the office, lifts, meeting rooms and on public transport.
In January, Gao was a member of the specialist team who managed to isolate and sequence the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
He also co-authored two of the first papers on the subject which were published in The New England Journal of Medicine.
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