While many countries across the world have passed the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is now a global effort to ensure coronavirus cases do not continue to rise. In some parts of the world, the wearing of face masks and face coverings has been introduced as mandatory. The Government has recently issued updated guidance on the use of face coverings in the UK.
What is the current World Health Organization (WHO) advice on face masks?
The World Health Organization (WHO) has now changed its guidance on the use of face masks.
The WHO now state face masks should be worn in public, as they can provide a “barrier for potentially infectious droplets”.
However, WHO’s Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters at a briefing this week: “Masks on their own will not protect you from COVID-19.”
The WHO’s technical lead expert on COVID-19, Maria Van Kerkhove, told Reuters: “We are advising governments to encourage that the general public wear a mask.
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“And we specify a fabric mask – that is, a non-medical mask.”
She added: “We have new research findings.
“We have evidence now that if this is done properly it can provide a barrier … for potentially infectious droplets.”
The WHO advice regarding healthcare workers working with COVID-19 patients or suspected cases remains the same, and workers should continue to wear medical masks.
What is the UK Government’s advice on face masks?
Evidence from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) has confirmed face coverings can help reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission if you are suffering from coronavirus but do not show symptoms of the illness.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said face coverings on public transport will now be compulsory from June 15.
The policy will coincide with the opening of non-essential shops on this date, and will include transport on the tube, buses and other models of public transport.
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The Government is also now strongly urging the public to attend hospital wearing a face covering.
The Government has issued advice HERE on how you can make your own face coverings at home with items such as scarves and T-shirts.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced the new guidance on June 5, stating: “As the NHS reopens right across the country, it is critically important to stop the spread amongst staff, patients and visitors too.
“So today we are setting out that all hospital visitors and outpatients will need to wear face coverings.
“One of the things that we’ve learnt is that those in hospital, those who are working in hospital, are more likely to catch coronavirus, whether they work in a clinical setting or not.
“And to offer even greater protection, we are also providing new guidance for NHS staff in England which will come into force again on the 15 June, and all hospital staff will be required to wear Type 1 or 2 surgical masks, and this will cover all staff working in hospital.
“It will apply at all times, not just when they are doing their life-saving work on the frontline. It will apply in all areas except those areas designated as COVID-secure workplaces.
“And of course where PPE guidance recommends more stringent protection, that remains in place.”
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