The World Health Organisation on Friday, changed its stance on the wearing of face masks, saying that face masks should be used in places with a high rate of COVID-19 infection, and where physical distancing is impossible.
It will be recalled that the WHO had earlier stressed the wearing of face masks for those caring for people sick with COVID-19 at home and health workers who deal with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients.
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In areas with community-level virus 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,”
said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
However, the UN agency also stated that face masks do not guarantee total protection against COVID-19, and encouraged people who are sick with COVID-19 to avoid going out in public if they can.
But in a recent turn of events, the WHO has now recommended that in areas where the virus is most prevalent, all people working in clinical sections of a health facility should wear face masks irrespective of whether they deal with COVID-19 patients or not.
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The WHO also released new guidelines for the composition of face masks worn by the general public, stating that they should consist of at least three different layers: an inner layer which should be made up of a water-absorbent material such as cotton, a middle layer -which would serve as a filter – should be designed with a material like non-woven polypropylene, and an outer layer which should be a water-resistant material such as polyester.
The WHO’s emergency director Michael Ryan pointed out the fact that face masks are more effective in preventing the wearer from possibly infecting others, rather than self-protection.
However, he also stated that wearing face masks alone did not completely guarantee protection against the virus, adding that physical distancing and hand hygiene are also critical for preventing infection.
“Find, isolate, test and care for every case, and to trace and quarantine every contact. That is what we know works. That is every country’s best defence against COVID-19.”
Featured Image Source: DW
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