World Health Organization Issues New Face Mask Guidelines for COVID-19

The revised guidelines offer more specifics on masks

Elk statue with facemask
This elk statue models proper face mask technique.
Lorie Shaull/Creative Commons

During the pandemic, seeking guidelines for how best to stay healthy can be more confusing than you might expect. With numerous local, national and international organizations all providing guidelines, there’s a possibility that some might contradict others — leaving some unsure of what the best practices for avoiding COVID-19 actually are.

Now, one of the world’s pre-eminent organizations has offered revised guidelines on face masks. That would be the World Health Organization; writing at Vox, Lois Parshley has the details. The revised guidelines follow the agency’s earlier statement on face masks, released on April 6. These new guidelines offer more specifics, both regarding the type of masks to wear and where they should be worn.

The full document, available here, is 16 pages long. Parshley offers a good summary of its findings:

The new guidance recommends that the general public wear cloth masks made from at least three layers of fabric “on public transport, in shops, or in other confined or crowded environments.” It also says people over 60 or with preexisting conditions should wear medical masks in areas where there’s community transmission of the coronavirus and physical distancing is impossible, and that all workers in clinical settings should wear medical masks in areas with widespread transmission.

The WHO’s report stresses that masks aren’t the only reason to be concerned. Specifically, the report notes that masks  can give their wearers “a false sense of security, leading to potentially lower adherence to other critical preventive measures such as physical distancing and hand hygiene.” In other words: remember to wash your hands, and do so regularly.

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