WHO changes COVID-19 mask guidance: Wear one if you can't keep your distance

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Sat, 06 Jun 2020 - 08:35 GMT

Face masks- CC via pixnio

Face masks- CC via pixnio

GENEVA - 6 June 2020: The World Health Organization is broadening its recommendations for the use of masks during the coronavirus pandemic and said Friday it is now advising that in areas where the virus is spreading, people should wear fabric masks when social distancing is not possible, such as on public transportation and in shops, NBC News reported.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said people over age 60 or with underlying medical conditions also should wear masks in situations where social distancing cannot be maintained. WHO previously had recommended that only health care workers, people with COVID-19 and their caregivers wear medical masks, noting a global shortage of supplies.

During a press briefing discussing the revised guidance, Tedros added that “masks on their own will not protect you from COVID-19” and emphasized the importance of hand-washing, social distancing and other infection-prevention strategies.

"I wish to be very clear that the guidance we are publishing today is an update of what we have been saying for months: that masks should only ever be used as part of a comprehensive strategy.

WHO also widened its mask guidance to specify that health workers in areas where the virus is spreading freely should always wear masks inside medical facilities. Doctors working in cardiology or other wards, for example, should wear medical masks even if the facilities had no known coronavirus patients, Tedros said.

Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO's technical lead on COVID-19, said the updated recommendations were based on new research commissioned by the UN health agency.

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