Why should people wear masks?
Masks are a key measure to suppress transmission and save lives.
Masks should be used as part of a comprehensive ‘Do it all!’ approach including physical distancing, avoiding crowded, closed and close-contact settings, good ventilation, cleaning hands, covering sneezes and coughs, and more.
Depending on the type, masks can be used for either protection of healthy persons or to prevent onward transmission.
Medical masks are recommended for:
- Health workers in clinical settings. See our guidance for more information on the use of personal protective equipment by health care workers.
- Anyone who is feeling unwell, including people with mild symptoms, such as muscle aches, slight cough, sore throat or fatigue.
- Anyone awaiting COVID-19 test results or who has tested positive.
- People caring for someone who is a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 outside of health facilities.
Medical masks are also recommended for the following groups, because they are at a higher risk of becoming seriously ill with COVID-19 and dying:
- People aged 60 or over.
- People of any age with underlying health conditions, including chronic respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease, cancer, obesity, immunocompromised patients and diabetes mellitus.
Non-medical, fabric masks can be used by the general public under the age of 60 and who do not have underlying health conditions.