Face Mask Viability

Stephen Case made this Freedom of Information request to Public Health England

This request has been closed to new correspondence. Contact us if you think it should be reopened.

The request was partially successful.

Dear Public Health England,

I'm a little bit confused as to what advice is needed regarding face masks. As you know, face masks have been told to wear them in any public building, at least in England and Wales. This has thrown a selection of folk into a confused state as to thier validity in the first place.

Of course, there are those that follow the rules, quite litterately, to the letter, and i'm not 100% in agreement with them. Especially when you get somethng like this, from World Health Organisation:

Community settings
Studies of influenza, influenza-like illness, and human
coronaviruses provide evidence that the use of a medical
mask can prevent the spread of infectious droplets from an
infected person to someone else and potential contamination
of the environment by these droplets.
13 There is limited
evidence that wearing a medical mask by healthy individuals
in the households or among contacts of a sick patient, or
among attendees of mass gatherings may be beneficial as a
preventive measure.
14-23 However, there is currently no
evidence that wearing a mask (whether medical or other types)
by healthy persons in the wider community setting, including
universal community masking, can prevent them from
infection with respiratory viruses, including COVID-19.
Medical masks should be reserved for health care workers.

I have 2 main questions.

First: Could you confirm how effective masks are, given the fact that the virus can still speard weather we war a mask or not?

Second: Can you supply data as to how many have caught the virus that have worn masks, and how many have not worn masks, so we can see the diffrence?

As you can imagine, my theory is, how is this still speading, if all these actions are in place to prevent it? Something is seriously wrong somewhere.

Yours faithfully,

Stephen Case

FOI, Public Health England

OFFICIAL
Dear Stephen Case,

We acknowledge receipt of your email and request for information, which will be treated as a request for information under statutory access legislation.

Please note that requests under the Freedom of Information Act and the Environmental Information Regulations (EIRs) will receive a response within 20 working days from the day following the date of receipt of your request.

If the request is for your personal data, your request has been handled as a data subject access request (SAR) under Article 15 of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), then we will respond  within one month of the receipt of the request.

Public Health England (PHE) is responsible for providing guidance and advice to government and front-line services for all aspects of public health.  It is a designated Category 1 responder organisation under the Civil Contingency Act and this specifically includes the COVID-19 response, providing clinical expertise and wider public health advice and guidance across national and local government, the NHS and third sector. As such, you may experience delays when making statutory information access requests during the pandemic.

We will aim to address all requests promptly and within the required response timeframes.  However when we are unable to meet the response timeframe we will keep requesters updated on a revised expected timescale for a response to their request. The Information Commissioner recognises this position in its recent guidance, see link: https://ico.org.uk/global/data-protectio....

Kind Regards,

Public Accountability Unit
Public Health England
[Public Health England request email]
Tel: 020 8327 6920 
www.gov.uk/phe   Follow us on Twitter @PHE uk

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Dear FOI,

I am following up on my request for information under Freedom Of Information. As you are aware, By law, public authorities must respond “promptly” to requests. This is normally within 20 working days. You should have replied promptly by 24 August 2020, therefore, you are technically breaking the law. I know you have recieved the request, and i have not seen any replies asking for any additional information or clarifications, so therefore, i fully expect you to follow the same laws that i have to. Please reply to my request, or if not, please reply as to why not.

Yours sincerely,

Stephen Case

FOI, Public Health England

OFFICIAL
Dear Stephen Case,

Thank you for your email and patience whilst we process your request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. We apologise for the delay in providing our response. Due to the pandemic we are dealing with a high volume of requests at this time. We aim to provide you with a response by the 4 September 2020.

In the meantime may we draw your attention to the Information Commissioner’s current guidance following the pandemic outbreak of COVID-19, which can be found on the following link: https://ico.org.uk/global/data-protectio....

Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience caused.

Thank you once again for your patience

Kind Regards,

FOI Team
Public Accountability Unit
Public Health England
[Public Health England request email]
Tel: 020 8327 6920
www.gov.uk/phe Follow us on Twitter @PHE uk

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FOI, Public Health England

1 Attachment

OFFICIAL
Dear Stephen Case,

Please find attached Public Health England's response to your request.

Kind regards,

FOI Team
Public Accountability Unit
Public Health England
[Public Health England request email]
Tel: 020 8327 6920
www.gov.uk/phe Follow us on Twitter @PHE uk

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