Streets full of mascarillas (masks) is a sight that Lanzarote only usually sees at carnival time, but it could soon become a feature of everyday life as Spain slowly starts to leave the lockdown.

The Spanish government yesterday changed its stance on face masks, now recommending that people wear them in public places where they are likely to come in to close contact with others. Until recently, Spain followed the guidelines of the World Health Organisation, which recommends mask use only for health workers and those who suffer from the virus.

However, on Wednesday, the European Centre for the Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) altered its posture on masks, saying “the use of masks in communal areas such as supermarkets, shopping centres or public transport, could be considered”. The ECDC is an agency of the EU, and its decision was taken after evidence showing that COVID 19 sufferers who do not display symptoms can transmit the disease. Spain promptly followed the ECDC’s lead, yesterday.

The advice about face masks is currently a recommendation only, and not legally enforceable, but the government’s decision to hand out free masks to travellers on Spanish public transport from Monday (when thousands of non-essential workers will return to work again after two weeks of confinement) is just one sign that shows that mask use is likely to become a widespread feature of the country’s gradual exit from the lockdown restrictions.

Spain’s Ministry of Industry has released the specifications for disposable face masks free of charge, along with a list of suppliers of materials and recommendations for use, allowing any company that wishes to manufacture them the opportunity to do so. The UNE 0064 specifications can be downloaded at www.une.org

Nevertheless, some experts have have expressed worries that the public’s initial lack of familiarity with face masks could increase the risk of infection. Masks can be uncomfortable, and their use can increase hand-to-face touching. As a result, citizens have been advised to accustom themselves to using masks correctly – washing hands before putting them on and taking them off; ensuring masks cover the face snugly from the bridge of the nose to the chin; avoiding touching them as they are worn, and disposing of surgical masks after use

In addition to mask use, the Spanish health ministry has also recommended cleaning mobile phones with alcohol solution or soap and water, and has repeated advice about regular hand-washing and covering the mouth while coughing or sneezing.

Latest statistics: 10th April , 20:00

Increase on previous day’s figures in brackets.

Total Canarian Cases: 1887 (+29)

Cases on Lanzarote: 74 (+0)

Deaths (Canaries): 95 (+1)