Due to evolving evidence and consultations with international experts, the World Health Organization (WHO) has shifted their guidelines regarding the use of masks amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Initially, WHO advised that only those who are sick and those taking care of the sick need to be wearing masks.
At a media briefing on Friday, June 5, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus explained that some guidelines haven't changed:
- People who are sick with symptoms of COVID-19 should stay at home and talk to their doctor.
- People confirmed to have COVID-19 should be isolated and cared for in a health facility; their contacts should also be quarantined.
- If a sick person or a contact needs to leave the house, they should wear a medical mask.
- People caring for an infected person at home should wear a medical mask while they are in the same room.
- Frontliners should continue to use medical masks and PPEs when dealing with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients.
Below are the new, additional guidelines from WHO:
- WHO advises everyone working in a health facility to wear medical masks (not only workers dealing with patients with COVID-19).
- People aged 60 years or over, or those with underlying conditions, should wear a medical mask in situations where physical distancing is not possible.
- Governments should encourage the general public to wear masks where there is widespread transmission and physical distancing is difficult (public transport and other confined or crowded environments).
In addition, fabric masks need to have at least three layers: The outer layer should be a water-resistant fabric; the inner layer should be water-absorbent; and the middle should serve as a filter. Here is a short tutorial on how to wear, remove, and store your fabric mask properly.