Globally COVID-19 situation is worsening: World Health Organization chief

Tuesday, 09 Jun, 2020

Medical masks such as N95 and surgical masks are now recommended for all individuals where there is widespread transmission of COVID-19, the World Health Organisation said, updating its guidelines on the usage of face covers and masks.

In addition, home caregivers and health workers should wear masks when dealing with those affected as well as wearing other protective gear.

World Health Organization also advised the people wear a medical mask, self-isolate, and seek medical advice as soon as they start to feel unwell with potential symptoms of Covid-19, even if symptoms are mild.

"Masks on their own will not protect you from Covid-19", Dr Tedros said. One study recently found that homemade cloth masks may help provide a "modest reduction in transmission".

The organisation had always advised that medical facemasks should be worn by people who are sick and by those caring for them.

The WHO also issued new guidance on the composition of non-medical fabric masks for the general public, advising that they should consist of at least three layers of different material.

Singapore's coronavirus task force also said Monday that it believes half of the country's new COVID-19 cases are asymptomatic based on testing data, Reuters reports.

Having said this, World Health Organization reiterated "masks are not a replacement for physical distancing and other hygienic practises including hand hygiene".

Although health officials in countries including Britain, the United States and elsewhere have warned that COVID-19 is spreading from people without symptoms, WHO has maintained that this type of spread is not a driver of the pandemic and is probably accounts for about 6% of spread, at most.

Although countries' health officials urged their citizens to wear masks, WHO has been hesitant to call people to wear masks in public spaces since the beginning of the epidemic, and even listed the negative aspects of wearing masks in their guides, such as blocking communication and creating discomfort.

Mr Tedros said the widespread use of face masks is still not yet supported by high quality or direct scientific evidence.

Currently, although the Government says masks must soon be worn on public transport and on visits to hospitals, there's no mandatory requirement for them to be worn in shops or elsewhere.

What is the WHO's advice?

Non-medical masks can be made from a wide variety of materials. Since I've been shopping at the supermarket in the past few days, I've also been surprised that many more people seem to give up on masks in public.