Sweden’s health authorities are not insisting on wearing face masks to the public. At the same time, several EU countries have now made face masks compulsory, so, why is Sweden not following suit?
Commenting on compulsory wearing of face masks, the Public Health Agency states on its website that it could increase the chances of you touching your face, because of itchiness or as you adjust the cloth. Every time your hands touch your eyes, nose or mouth, the risk of being infected with the virus increases.
Information about the protection face masks provide is ambiguous, TheLocal Sweden reports. While many governments promote the use of face masks in public spaces, Sweden still does not. Despite the latest advice from the European Commission, people in Sweden allowed to wear a face mask, but the guidelines state they are «not needed in everyday life».
However, the Scandinavian airline SAS was quick to announce that all air travellers over the age of six are required to wear a face mask throughout their flight.
«Face masks in public spaces do not provide any greater protection to the population,» Johan Carlson from the Swedish Public Health Agency Folkhälsomyndigheten said at a press conference on May 13th.
Swedes keep a distance but not obligated to wear a face mask
Swedish health authorities argue that keeping a distance, washing your hands, not touching your face, and staying at home if you experience any symptoms are still the best ways to halt the spread of any virus.
PM Löfven told reporters at the same press conference that 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.
«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,» state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell told SVT.
Frankly, healthcare staff use face masks to prevent bacteria from transferring to their patients. But face masks used in hospitals are generally of a different kind than single-use, lightweight masks bought at pharmacies.
«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 to SVT.