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WHO issues new guidance on face masks, advising people

  • In a press briefing Friday, the World Health Organization (WHO) said everyone in areas with community transmission should wear a face mask where social distancing isn’t possible to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
  • WHO also advised that in areas of community transmission, everyone who is over 60 years old or has underlying health conditions should wear a medical mask in spaces where social distancing is difficult.
  • All healthcare workers in areas with widespread transmission should also wear medical masks, not just those working with coronavirus patients, WHO said.
  • WHO reaffirmed that face masks alone cannot prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
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If there are confirmed cases of the coronavirus in your community, you should wear a fabric face mask when you are out in public spaces where social distancing is impossible, per an update from the World Health Organization on Friday.

In the June 5 press briefing, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom also announced revised guidelines on who should be wearing medical facemasks in communities where there are confirmed cases of the coronavirus, as well as overcrowded spaces including stores, buses, trains, and planes.

The WHO now recommends medical face masks to everyone who has underlying health conditions or is over 60 years old in spaces where social distancing is difficult or impossible.

Additionally, Adhanom said all healthcare workers in communities with widespread transmission should be wearing medical face masks.

“That means, for example, that when a doctor is doing a ward round on the cardiology or palliative care units where there are no confirmed COVID-19 patients, they should still wear a medical mask,” Adhanom said in the briefing.

Previously, the WHO recommended that only healthcare workers, people infected with the coronavirus, and their caregivers wear medical masks.

Following the briefing, Adhanom tweeted the new guidelines.

—Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (@DrTedros) June 5, 2020

Adhanom also repeated that masks alone do not protect people from the coronavirus in the briefing.

“I wish to be very clear that the guidance we are publishing today is an update of what we have been saying for months: that masks should only ever be used as part of a comprehensive strategy in the fight against COVID,” Adhanom said.

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