WHO updates guidance on mask use in the context of COVID-19

Dec. 2, 2020

The World Health Organization (WHO) updated its guidance on the use of masks with new scientific evidence and practical advice to decision makers. The main changes, in particular in areas of community or cluster transmission, are more wide use of masks in healthcare 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 one 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.

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.

This update provides advice on the use of masks in communities, during home care, and in healthcare 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, healthcare managers, healthcare 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. 

WHO has the guidance.

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