Swedish health authorities say weak evidence underlies face-mask advocacy

6:40 min

Facemasks: to wear them or not to wear them? The issue has become intensely political. On Tuesday, Germany's disease control institute said face masks should be worn both indoors and outdoors whenever social distancing cannot be maintained, but Sweden's state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell still insists there is not enough evidence that face masks actually work.

Tegnell told Radio Sweden on Tuesday that the Public Health Agency will only change its stance if such peer-reviewed evidence emerges, but that it is keeping a close eye on developments internationally, and will look at the issue once more if the number of cases in Sweden starts to rise again.

According to Masks4All, a face mask lobbying group, around 130 countries and 31 US states now have policies requiring face coverings,while a further 42 countries recommend it*. The decision not to introduce such policies makes Sweden and the other Nordic nations stand out, along with countries like Sudan, Yemen and Burundi – but also New Zealand, which has declared itself coronavirus-free, and Greenland, where 13 people have contracted the virus and recovered.

However, some Swedish public transport operators and train companies are now handing out face masks for free. Yet among the passengers waiting to board the 16:27 train from Stockholm to Gothenburg on Monday, very few were wearing face coverings.

Click on the link to hear from Anders Tegnell and Swedish commuters.

*The above audio report states that, according to Masks4All, around 130 countries and 31 US states now have policies requiring or recommending face coverings. In fact, around 130 countries require mask usage, while a further 42 recommend it.