World Health Organization encourages wider use of face masks in coronavirus hotspots

June 05, 2020
People wear face masks to protect against the coronavirus as they walk across an intersection in Beijing, Friday, June 5, 2020. China on Friday reported five new confirmed coronavirus cases, all of them brought by Chinese citizens from outside the country. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

(AP) - The World Health Organization is changing its recommendations for the use of masks during the coronavirus pandemic and is now recommending that in areas where there is widespread transmission, people should wear masks when social distancing is not possible, such as on public transport and in shops.

In a press briefing on Friday, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also said people over age 60 or those with underlying medical conditions should wear a medical mask in situations where social distancing cannot be maintained.

WHO has previously only recommended that health care workers, those sickened by COVID-19 and their care givers wear masks.

Tedros emphasized that “masks on their own will not protect you from COVID-19” and emphasized the importance of hand-washing, social distancing and other measures.

He added that health workers in areas with widespread transmission should now wear medical masks in all areas of health facilities and not just those with confirmed COVID-19 patients, saying that doctors working in cardiology or other wards, for example, should continue to wear a medical mask even if there are no known coronavirus patients.

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