Intended for healthcare professionals

Letters Face masks for the public during covid-19

Face masks for the public during covid-19: the more things change

BMJ 2020; 370 doi: (Published 02 July 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;370:m2656
  1. Annemarie Jutel, professor of health
  1. Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington 6012, New Zealand
  1. annemarie.jutel{at}

On 1 November 1918, Stars and Stripes (the official newspaper of the American Expeditionary Forces) proudly announced: “Gauze masks for men on transport keep flu at bay.”1 Some 5000 men crossed the North Atlantic Ocean wearing masks fashioned from squares of gauze “saturated with a 1% solution of iodine” and fastened with strips of adhesive. There were “no missing men when …

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