Faced with the flu epidemic, should we make wearing a mask compulsory?

Yasmina Kattou / Photo credits: JC MILHET / HANS LUCAS / HANS LUCAS VIA AFP

Since this Wednesday, wearing a mask has once again become compulsory in hospitals and public health centers in Spain. The cause: a flu epidemic and the significant circulation of a multitude of viruses. In France, all regions have entered the epidemic phase for the flu and yet, no mask. How to explain it? We take stock.

Are we going to reintegrate the mask into our daily lives? Spain is facing a flu epidemic, and a fairly strong circulation of a multitude of viruses. The Spaniards lifted the obligation to wear masks in hospitals last July but traumatized by the deaths during the Covid pandemic, the authorities agreed on a compulsory return. In France, all regions have entered the epidemic phase for the flu and yet everyone can enter the hospital without a mask. Why is there no return to obligation?

“Absent” awareness

Each hospital director can reintroduce the mask obligation if he considers the measure necessary. This is the case in certain hospitals, such as in La Rochelle or Strasbourg. Covars, the committee for anticipating health risks, recommends imposing it in services which welcome vulnerable people, but prefers to avoid constraint. “The obligation is something that is complicated. We strongly recommend the mask, but in French history, there has not been an obligation to wear a mask for any of the flu epidemics,” notes Brigitte Autran, president of the Covars.

Calling for French responsibility is insufficient, say associations of immunocompromised people, such as Renaloo, which represents kidney patients. Its president, Yvanie Caillé, is also campaigning for the return of the mask in all enclosed places. “We have the impression that today, awareness around these issues is too lacking and this leads to situations where we see that in these places where wearing a mask should be natural, in fact, only a very small minority of people wear it,” she laments.

According to a recent survey by Public Health France, only 15% of French people are masked when facing the most vulnerable.

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