World Health Organization reverses position on face masks as coronavirus cases climb

A masked shopper in London

A masked shopper

The new guidance advises healthy people to wear non-medical face masks.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) updated its guidance on Friday (June 5) to recommend that governments ask people to wear fabric face masks in public places to curb the spread of the pandemic Covid-19 disease caused by the new coronavirus.

World Health Organization announced that non-medical fabric masks must have at least three layers of different materials.

"WHO recommends that persons with any symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 should: Wear a medical mask, self-isolate, and seek medical advice as soon as they start to feel unwell with potential symptoms of COVID-19, even if symptoms are mild".

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.

Health workers have also been advised to up their precautions and should now wear medical-grade masks at all times in healthcare facilities, rather than limiting their wear to areas with patients.

People over the age of 60 or those with underlying medical conditions should specifically wear a medical mask where social distancing can not be maintained, he added.

He emphasised that masks on their own will not protect people from getting COVID-19 and hand washing, social distancing and other measures are still important.

Urging those taking part to socially distance, frequently wash their hands and avoid touching their mouth, nose and eyes.

And Tedros stressed that masks were only one part of an effective strategy to suppress the virus - and should not lure people into a false sense of security.

The novel coronavirus has infected at least 6.7 million people and killed more than 390,000 since the outbreak first emerged in China last December, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP.

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

While expressing concern that the unprofessional use of antibiotics during the pandemic would further fuel the trend, the United Nations health agency said only a small proportion of COVID-19 patients needed the medicine to treat subsequent bacterial infections.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has changed its advice on face masks, saying they should be worn in public to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

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The new guidance also updated the WHO's advice on the use of masks by the general public in areas with community transmission.

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