İrem UZUN -TDO- The World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday changed its position on masks, now encouraging people to wear them in crowded places, citing anecdotal evidence that supports their value in stopping the spread of the coronavirus. The announcement marks a significant change of stance by the WHO, which until now has been reluctant to advocate the wearing of masks by the public because of limited evidence that they offer protection.
WHO said people should be advised to wear masks not only on buses and trains but also wherever physical distancing may be hard - in grocery stores, at work, at social gatherings, at mass gatherings and in closed settings, including schools, churches, mosques and other places of worship. The new guidance document says the over-60s and people with underlying health conditions should wear medical masks in “settings where physical distancing cannot be achieved” because of “increased risk of infection and/or negative outcomes”. All others should wear a three-layer fabric mask: absorbent cotton closest to the face, followed by a polypropylene layer and then a synthetic layer that is fluid-resistant, the WHO said. It envisages that these masks can be made at home, but that small companies may begin to produce them, also providing jobs.
WHO also has new guidance for all health workers and caregivers in communities where there has been a lot of COVID-19, saying those who work in clinical areas should wear a medical mask throughout their shift while in clinical areas -apart from eating, drinking and changing masks when necessary after caring for a patient.