Health

WHO Provides Updated Guidance on Mask use in the context of COVID-19

This update provides advice on the use of masks in communities, during home care, and in health care settings in areas that have reported cases of COVID-19. It is intended for individuals in the community, public health and infection prevention and control (IPC) professionals, health care managers, health care workers (HCWs), and community health workers. This updated version includes a section on Advice to decision makers on the use of masks for healthy people in community settings.

Key messages

  • Masks should be used as part of comprehensive package of measures that help to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Hand hygiene before putting on and after removing the mask, as well as appropriate use, storage and cleaning or disposal of are essential to ensure masks are effective.
  • WHO has updated its guidance on the use of masks with new scientific evidence and practical advice to decision makers. More research is needed.
  • The main changes, in particular in areas of community or cluster transmission, is more wide use of masks in health care facilities and specifics on using non-medical masks for the general public.
  • In areas of known or suspected community or cluster COVID-19 transmission, WHO advises people to wear a mask, in indoor or in outdoor settings, where physical distancing of at least 1 meter cannot be maintained. When indoors with others, people should wear a mask unless ventilation has been assessed to be adequate. At home, people should wear a mask when receiving visitors if they cannot maintain distance or assess that ventilation is good.
  • There is also the recommendation not to wear masks during vigorous physical activity, and not to use masks with valves.
  • WHO has provided more detailed guidance on what types of fabrics to use in making fabric masks.
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