Updated advice on the use of masks in communities
The World Health Organisation has updated its guidance on the use of masks in areas that have reported cases of COVID-19. WHO recommends that governments encourage its citizens to wear fabric face masks in public places to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Studies of influenza, influenza-like illness, and human coronaviruses (not including COVID-19) provide evidence that the use of a medical mask can prevent the spread of infectious droplets from a symptomatic infected person (source control) to someone else and potential contamination of the environment by these droplets – World Health Organization
The WHO says a growing amount of observational evidence suggests that face masks can protect healthy individuals from getting infected, especially in such settings where physical distancing cannot be achieved.
A recent meta-analysis of these observational studies, with the intrinsic biases of observational data, showed that either disposable surgical masks or reusable 12–16-layer cotton masks were associated with protection of healthy individuals within households and among contacts of cases – World Health Organization
When Should You Wear A Mask?
|Situations/settings||Population||Purpose of mask use||Type of mask to consider wearing if recommended locally|
|Areas with known or suspected widespread transmission and limited or no capacity to implement other containment measures such as physical distancing, contact tracing, appropriate testing, isolation and care for suspected and confirmed cases.||General population in public settings, such as grocery stores, at work, social gatherings, mass gatherings, closed settings, including schools, churches, mosques, etc.||Potential benefit for source control||Non-medical mask|
|Settings with high population density where physical distancing cannot be achieved; surveillance and testing capacity, and isolation and quarantine facilities are limited||People living in cramped conditions, and specific settings such as refugee camps, camp-like settings, slums||Potential benefit for source control||Non-medical mask|
|Settings where a physical distancing cannot be achieved (close contact)||General public on transportation (e.g., on a bus, plane, trains) Specific working conditions which places the employee in close contact or potential close contact with others e.g., social workers, cashiers, servers||Potential benefit for source control||Non-medical mask|
|Settings where physical distancing cannot be achieved and increased risk of infection and/or negative outcomes||Vulnerable populations: People aged ≥60 years People with underlying comorbidities, such as cardiovascular disease or diabetes mellitus, chronic lung disease, cancer, cerebrovascular disease, immunosuppression||Protection||Medical mask|
|Any setting in the community*||Persons with any symptoms suggestive of COVID-19||Source control||Medical mask|
Visit Advice on the use of masks in the context of COVID-19 for more information.