The World Health Organization has revised its guidelines on wearing masks and now joins many health officials around the world in recommending their usage. Previously, the WHO had said that only those who are sick or caring for someone sick should wear masks.
Throughout much of the COVID-19 pandemic, the WHO has been heavily criticized for not endorsing the use of masks. Many have questioned why the organization wouldn’t support the use of masks for everyone amid the mounting evidence that many people spread the virus while not showing any symptoms at all.
Now, they have revised their opinions and declare that, after reviewing newer medical studies, masks should be worn by everyone at times when they can’t social distance. Examples given were while on public transit, inside stores, and crowded outdoor spaces. The WHO now also recommends that those over 60 and those with preexisting health conditions wear masks to reduce their chance of infection.
One piece of evidence the WHO cites for changing their advice is a study released in the highly respected medical journal, The Lancet, which stated that wearing masks can reduce a person’s chance of contracting the coronavirus by 14%.
However, in their statement, the WHO also warned that face masks shouldn’t create a sense of “false security” from the virus and that people shouldn’t let their guard down. Social distancing and limiting your interactions with others is still the best and most effective way to eliminate the spread of COVID-19. While masks can help, they can’t fully eliminate your chance of exposure.
Despite the WHO claiming that masks weren’t needed, many health organizations around the world have been advocating for mask usage for some time. The CDC in America has been recommending wearing masks since April 3rd.