People with asthma or other lung conditions should avoid wearing face masks, experts have warned.
The official advice from the UK government amid the coronavirus pandemic is to consider wearing a face covering in enclosed public spaces, such as on public transport or in supermarkets.
Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer, said: “Wearing a face covering is an added precaution that may have some benefit in reducing the likelihood that a person with the infection passes it on.
“The most effective means of preventing the spread of this virus remains following social distancing rules and washing your hands regularly. It does not remove the need to self-isolate if you have symptoms.”
However, Asthma UK has warned that wearing a face mask can actually make breathing harder for Brits with asthma.
Jessica Kirby, Head of Health Advice at Asthma UK, said: “For some people with asthma, wearing a face covering might not be easy. It could make it feel harder to breathe.
“The UK government has advised that people with respiratory conditions don’t need to wear face coverings, so if you are finding it hard, then don’t wear one. If you’re comfortable to wear a face covering, please use a cloth or home-made one, not a medical type face mask.
“The crucial advice across the UK remains for people to continue following social distancing guidance, or shielding measures.”
People with other lung conditions including bronchitis, emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) should also avoid face masks, according to Dr Purvi Parikh, an immunology expert at New York University.
Speaking to MailOnline, she explained: “Those with lung conditions are in a catch-22 because they probably need the mask more than the average person but it can be challenging to breathe.
“A tight mask on your face can make anyone have trouble breathing. I even get it when I’m treating my patients.”
Dr Parikh added that rising temperatures could make breathing with a face mask even harder.
She said: “We’re approaching summer-time so it’s hot outside, and when you’re consistently breathing hot air on top of your own breath that can be quite uncomfortable.”