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“Don’t talk to one another or over the phone” on public transport systems to limit COVID-19 spread ; …

Commuters on public transport modes should avoid chatting to one another or on the phone to reduce the danger of spreading coronavirus, the French National Academy of Medicine warned.

“The compulsory wearing of masks on public transport, wherever social distancing is not practicable, should be followed by one very easy precaution: avoid speaking and making phone calls,” it said in a statement. Academy member Patrick Berche announced that if there were only three people in a subway car there was no difficulty, but if you were only two centimeters away from the next person it made sense not to discuss or talk on the phone.

“It is not an obligation, it is a recommendation,” he said. The foundation is not an official advisory body. It can reply to government inquiries but also declares recommendations, which seldom go against official policy. The academy which was established in 1820 scrutinized a recent government proposal to wear only surgical masks in society, rather than masks made of fabric.

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“The proposed tightening of the ordinance (on masks) is based on a prudent policy but it lacks scientific evidence,” the academy said. It said that cloth or homemade masks were effective against the spread of coronavirus as long as they were used perfectly and that most epidemics took place in circumstances where people took off their masks.“Such a change in support concerning a method with which the whole population had become accustomed, hazards sparking incomprehension and could arouse suspicions about the soundness of certain policies,” the academy said.

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