Covid-19 France: Mayors await info on masks for public

French mayors say they are expecting more details later this week about the distribution of ‘general public’ Covid-19 masks referred to by President Macron last night.

14 April 2020
By Oliver Rowland

It comes as the Association des Maires de France (AMF) recently put out a statement recommending wide use of ‘alternative masks’.

In his update about Covid-19 last night, Mr Macron said: “As a complement to the ‘barrier measures’ that you are well aware of and that you will need to continue to apply [staying at least a metre away from other people, washing hands, sneezing into the bent elbow etc], the state will from May 11 and in partnership with the mayors, allow every French person to procure a general public mask.

“For the most-exposed professions and in certain situations, such as on public transport, their use could become systematic.

“It will become possible thanks to our imports and thanks to the fantastic mobilisation of business people and employees all over the country to produce this kind of mask in large quantities.”

An AMF spokesman said: “For the moment we have no information about this. I think it’s going to change in the course of this week. We may know more tomorrow or Thursday.”

The issue of whether or not to wear a mask has been controversial and the national government has so far not made a clear statement in favour of it.

However the AMF last week said it was recommending to French mayors that they advise local people to wear a ‘home made’ or surgical mask over their nose and mouth when they go out (Connexion notes it is no longer possible for the public to buy surgical masks in France, for example in pharmacies, as they have been requisitioned by the government).

The advice was based on a proposal by the mayor of La Garenne Colombes, Hauts-de-Seine, Prof Philippe Juvin, who is head of the A&E department at the Georges Pompidou hospital in Paris. The AMF said it was also in line with recommendations of the National Academy of Medicine.

It said everyone could make their own masks out of cloth “by whatever means”, but these should be washed at 60 degrees every day.

Their widespread use would help to make sure there were enough professionally-made masks for those who are most exposed through work, or most vulnerable, the association said.

“They should only be used during indispensable, authorised outings. Even if they don’t have the same technical and health characteristics as surgical masks, they constitute an alternative protection in a situation where generalised use of surgical masks is unfortunately today impossible.”

The AMF advises following a mask model that has been provided by French standards body Afnor at this link.

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