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7 July 2020, 09:50 | Updated: 7 July 2020, 09:52
The UK has taken up wearing face masks in public less than other countries and a top scientist says refusing to wear one should be the same taboo as not wearing a seatbelt.
Refusing to wear a face mask in public during COVID-19 should be considered the same level of dangerous behaviour as drink-driving says a top scientist as it's revealed the UK have taken up the practice least compared to its European counterparts.
President of the Royal Society, Venki Ramakrishnan, has called for everyone to wear a face covering whilst in a closed public setting such as a supermarket and not just on public transport, urging people to treat it as 'just another item of clothing.'
He said: "It used to be quite normal to have quite a few drinks and drive home, and it also used to be normal to drive without seatbelts."
"Today, both of those would be considered antisocial, and not wearing face coverings in public should be regarded in the same way."
"It is the right thing to do, and a small price to pay, to help keep infections down and the economy open in the pandemic."
His comments come as it emerges the UK’s uptake of the practice is way behind that of other countries and that face coverings can protect the wearer as well as people around them.
In late April, uptake of mask-wearing in the UK was around 25%, compared to 83.4% in Italy, 65.8% in the United States and 63.8% in Spain, according to the Royal Society.
Venki said: "Wearing a mask did not bother our Italian, French or Spanish neighbours; none of whom were used to wearing one before the pandemic, yet now do so routinely."
There has been both mixed messaging from the government and from leading global health organisations- but all have since updated their advise, admitting face coverings are effective in minimising the risk of spreading the virus.