The French National Academy of Medicine has urged people to quit the chatter on packed buses and trains, where social distancing is impossible. The country’s health minister earlier asked everyone to wear better quality masks.
“The compulsory mask-wearing on public transport, where physical distance cannot be respected, must be paired with a very simple precaution: avoid talking and making phone calls,” the Academy said in a statement.
The Academy updated its recommendations in light of the more transmissible coronavirus mutations that were discovered in Britain and South Africa.
The High Council of Public Health, which advises the French government, earlier recommended an increase in the minimum social distancing requirement from one to two meters. The Academy argued that the measure is reasonable, but impractical, and urged that the focus be on masks and personal hygiene instead.
The news comes as French Health Minister Olivier Veran urged everyone to wear higher-grade respirator-type FFP2 masks, which better protect against airborne viruses than regular cloth masks.
According to reports, the French government is considering making the FFP2s mandatory, following the examples of Germany and Austria where people were told recently to wear surgical and other higher-grade masks in supermarkets and on public transport.