WHO changes COVID-19 mask guidance, advises to wear masks in public areas

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New York: The World Health Organization (WHO) has changed its advice on face masks. 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.

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.

The WHO had previously argued there was not enough evidence to say that healthy people should wear masks.

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.

The organisation had always advised that medical face masks should be worn by people who are sick and those caring for them.

Globally, there have been 6.7 million confirmed coronavirus cases and nearly 400,000 deaths since the outbreak began late last year, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

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