Use face coverings where social distancing not possible, new WHO advice says
People have been encouraged to wear homemade fabric masks in public where social distancing is not possible, newly updated World Health Organisation advice states.
The WHO previously stressed there was no evidence that wearing a mask – whether medical or other types – by healthy people in the wider community could prevent them from infection with respiratory viruses, including Covid-19.
However, it said “evolving” new science now pointed to the use of medical-grade masks in hospital settings – even for those not treating coronavirus patients – as well as similar protection worn by people aged 60 or over, or with underlying health conditions, when outside of their home where social distancing was not possible.
Speaking during a virtual press briefing, WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “In areas with widespread transmission, the WHO advises medical masks for all people working in clinical areas of a health facility, not only workers dealing with patients with Covid-19.
“Secondly, in areas with community transmission, we advise that people aged 60 years or over, or those with underlying conditions, should wear a medical mask in situations where physical distancing is not possible.
“Thirdly, the WHO has also updated its guidance on the use of masks by the general public in areas with community transmission.
“In light of evolving evidence, the WHO advises that governments should encourage the general public to wear masks where there is widespread transmission and physical distancing is difficult, such as on public transport, in shops or in other confined or crowded environments.”