#WHO reverses position on face masks as coronavirus cases climb

WHO reverses position on face masks as coronavirus cases climb

June 6, 2020 | 10:44am

The World Health Organization is now advising everyone to wear face masks in public when they can’t practice social distancing — an about-face from its earlier guidance on stopping the spread of the coronavirus.

WHO director-general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced the shift Friday, citing new evidence that showed face masks worn by healthy people could be “a barrier for potentially infectious droplets,” the BBC reported.

WHO had always advised that sick people and their caretakers should wear medical face masks. The new guidance advises healthy people to wear non-medical face masks.

WHO officials for months have stood firm that a healthy person would get a false sense of security from wearing a mask and would use up supplies needed by medical professionals.

New York already has a mandate for everyone to wear a face mask if they can’t stay at least 6 feet apart.

New studies, however, show people can be highly infectious in the few days before they show symptoms or can catch the virus and never show symptoms.

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,” the director-general said.

The guidance comes as transmission rates are accelerating in South America, the Middle East and Africa, CNN reported.

The number of confirmed cases is climbing at a rate of more than 100,000 a day over a seven-day period, the outlet reported.

The number of new cases topped 100,000 for nine of the past 10 days. In April, new cases never topped 100,000 in one day.


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