By Vatican News
To wear or not to wear a face mask? That has been the question. Over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic articles have filled the pages of newspapers and magazines on the pros and cons of wearing face masks.
Now, the World Health Organisation has revised its advice saying that evidence suggests face masks “can provide a barrier ... for potentially infectious droplets."
A number of countries, including the United States, have recommended or mandated the wearing of face coverings in public. However, the WHO had previously communicated there was not enough evidence for or against the use of masks.
The WHO's technical lead expert on COVID-19, Maria Van Kerkhove is recommending “governments to encourage that the general public wear a mask”, in places where there is a risk of transmission of the disease.
This new update has been supported by studies conducted in recent weeks.
The UN agency continues to stress that face masks were only one of a range of tools that can reduce the risk of viral transmission, and should not give a false sense of protection. "Masks on their own will not protect you from COVID-19," the WHO's director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
The World Health Organisation’s guidelines that all healthcare workers dealing with COVID-19 patients, or with suspected cases of the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus, should wear medical masks remains the same.
It is also recommending that staff coming into contact with any patients or residents in clinics, hospitals, care homes and long-term residential facilities should also wear masks at all times.