RIVM says there is no evidence to prove the effectiveness of face masks
The National Institute for Public Health and Environment (RIVM) has announced that, at this point in time, they do not feel it is necessary to introduce a rule making face masks mandatory in the Netherlands, stating there is no hard evidence to suggest that the use of masks in public spaces prevents the spread of coronavirus.
RIVM won’t introduce new face mask rule
An RIVM spokesperson told NOS that there was ongoing research into the effectiveness of face masks, and that all the existing research was continuously evaluated by experts. However, at this point in time, the RIVM said there is no proof that wearing non-medical masks prevents infections.
Experts up and down the country can’t seem to agree on whether or not wearing masks in public spaces will play a significant role in preventing a second wave of the coronavirus. The Outbreak Management Team (OMT) looked into face masks in June, and found that the advantages and disadvantages of wearing a mask contradicted each other, concluding: “There is not yet sufficient scientific evidence to encourage the use of face masks in public spaces. In exceptional situations, consideration could be given to using non-medical masks when it is not possible to follow general measures, such as in public transport.”
The OMT also fear that wearing masks on a regular basis may give members of the public a false sense of security, and lead them to not follow or forget about the rules that are already in place. The government has asked the OMT to look into face masks again, and offer advice on whether current measures should be changed.
Andreas Voss, member of the World Health Organisation expert team and head of microbiology at a hospital in Nijmegen, said he didn’t personally believe masks should be made mandatory, stating that because in many of the countries where a face mask rule has been implemented, there are several other measures also in place, so it is impossible to determine the impact of masks specifically.
Many people are asking for masks to be made mandatory
The mayors of Amsterdam and Rotterdam have called for the Dutch government to put plans in place to ensure that, should infection rates continue to rise, new measures can be implemented as quickly as possible. And, a leading science professor has asked the government to make wearing face masks mandatory when indoors.
Furthermore, a group of experts who were asked by Health Minister Hugo de Jonge to evaluate the existing coronavirus policy in the Netherlands asked for masks to be worn in all catering and contact professions.
The WHO currently advises people to wear non-medical face masks in places where contact takes place in public spaces. Voss says this advice was issued, not because of scientific evidence, but because of political pressure and public opinion.