Brits have been warned to carry a spare face covering as experts warn that masks are less effective in the rain.
Water has been found to restrict airflow and cuts off the amount of viral filter, scientists have discovered.
Boffins have now suggested that Brits change masks if it becomes damp – which is common with Britain’s rainy weather.
Speaking to The Times, Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, said: “It would now be useful if clear advice were issued to the public.
“Masks need to be changed regularly and this is particularly important to understand in damp and wet weather.”
Professor Spector’s claims echo those of the UK government, which advises: “When wearing a face covering you should change the face covering if it becomes damp or if you’ve touched it.”
The findings also sparked officials to encourage more guidance for Brits, MailOnline reports.
Karol Sikora, a former official in the WHO's cancer programme, told The Times: “Moisture makes masks porous and because of this all types of mask are essentially vulnerable in damp weather.
“I think the public generally lacks any knowledge or guidance on this issue. They should be given clear advice by the authorities, particularly given the current spell of heavy rain.
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“It is important that we know to change our masks if they become damp at all – higher-priced masks do not have different rules.”
The World Health Organisation advises that masks should be replaced as soon as they become damp.
It explains: “For any type of mask, appropriate use and disposal are essential to ensure that they are as effective as possible and to avoid any increase in transmission.
“All masks should be changed if wet or visibly soiled; a wet mask should not be worn for an extended period of time. Replace masks as soon as they become damp with a new clean, dry mask.”
In response to the advice, Jim Pickard, the chief political correspondent at the Financial Times, suggested: “Might be useful to carry two masks on rainy days.”
Face coverings are compulsory in the UK in shops and when travelling on public transport.
The rules were also tightened for hospitality venues making them mandatory except when seated at a table.
The government said: “You should also wear a face covering in indoor places not listed here where social distancing may be difficult and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet.”
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