Wearing a face mask in shops and supermarkets will become compulsory in England from 24 July, with those failing to comply to the new rules facing fines of up to £100.
The coverings are already compulsory on public transport in a bid to stop the spread of COVID-19.
While Health Secretary Matt Hancock said it would “give people more confidence to shop safely and enhance protections for those who work in shops”, others have questioned whether wearing a mask regularly will be good for their oxygen intake.
A doctor has shared a video on Instagram explaining why face masks don’t reduce your oxygen intake in the hopes of putting people’s minds at ease.
Dr Joshua Wolrich, an NHS surgical doctor, has used his platform to create a “public service announcement” on why masks “do not reduce oxygen saturation”.
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In the video, the doctor explains: “This on my finger records the oxygen saturation of my blood and my heart rate.
“This top number,” he points to a screen, “is the oxygen saturation. Anything between 94-100% is completely normal.”
Dr Wolrich goes on to show how the oxygen saturation in his blood does not change when he is or is not wearing a mask. He also confirms that he doesn’t have any respiratory conditions, so his oxygen saturation sits around 99%.
“Masks do not have the ability to reduce your oxygen, that is medically false.
“Stop making stuff up, stop listening to people who are making stuff up and stop turning this into a political issue. Masks help protect you and protect others.
“If you’re told to wear them, do so. Stop being selfish.”
The stern message - which came complete with a lengthly caption explaining his findings in more detail - has been met with over one million likes.
In the caption, Dr Wolrich wrote: “Masks categorically do not reduce oxygen saturation. This is a lie made up as an excuse by those who believe the pandemic is a hoax and that wearing a mask somehow encroaches on their rights.
“This is not an issue of freedom. If you wear a scarf around your face when it's cold you can wear a mask over your face during a pandemic. Caring about the safety and wellbeing of others means that you put your discomfort aside and choose to follow the best advice we have at the moment.”
His original message was met with some backlash from people noting that there are some people in England who aren’t able to wear masks for medical reasons.
This encouraged him to edit his original post where he added: “I have removed the original part of the caption which read: ‘there are ZERO medical conditions that mean that you cannot physically wear a mask’.
“I have been informed that people have been using this statement as an excuse to harass/abuse individuals with disabilities for whom it simply may not be practical/possible to wear a mask.
“How anyone can think this is acceptable I do not understand. It is not. Remember, these people may well be the most vulnerable in society that we are wearing masks in order to protect. I apologise for the lack of nuance in the manner of my wording.”
“I fully understand the impact that respiratory conditions, learning difficulties and mental health (including, but not limited to, anxiety) may have on mask-wearing; this post is not to negate that,” he went on to say.