WHO advised in a recent document that people with health issues or who are above 60 should wear a medical-grade face mask when they are out where social distancing is not possible. Healthy people should also wear fabric masks.
Prior to this, WHO did not recommend face masks for healthy people. Now WHO has changed its point and has now announced that everyone should wear masks.
Face masks for people aged above 60 and people with bad health is recommended in “settings where physical distancing cannot be achieved,” The health body’s new guidance document says so because there is “increased risk of infection and/or negative outcomes”.
Other people should also wear a face mask. Health experts also say that homemade masks are not protective. They have a single layer and droplets can pass through the fabric. One can wear a fabric mask having three layers. The three layers should have the following characteristics.
The first layer of the mask, directly touching face, should be made of absorbent cotton. This makes the mask comfortable to wear and provides the final absorbance, if any particles pass through the other two layers.
The second layer is the central one. It is the ‘filter’ of the mask. It is should be made from polypropylene layer. The material is used to achieve highest filtration.
The third layer is the outer most layer. This should be water proof; made from such material. It makes the mask usable during rain and other weather conditions. However, its original use is to stop the droplets reaching nose and mouth.
The WHO asked the people to wear masks everywhere if social distancing is difficult. Experts say that not only in buses or trains, face masks should also be used in grocery stores, at work, at social gatherings, at mass gatherings. Face masks should also be worn in closed settings like schools, mosques and churches.
An American infectious disease epidemiologist, Dr Maria Van Kerkhove says “there are many gatherings taking place across the globe for different reasons. People who put a homemade mask on feel a sense of protection. It is a false sense of protection.”
Experts also say that face masks are not enough. People should also follow other measures as keeping distance and using sanitizers and mouth wash.
“Masks must be part of a comprehensive strategy. They do not work alone. They must be used with a number of measures. I want to stress that anyone who is unwell should be at home. They should be tested, their contact should be identified and they should be in quarantine,” Dr Maria said.
She also said that in open areas, distance of 1 metre is necessary. The more the distance is, more the protection is. However, 1 metre is minimum safe distance.
People who are treating a sick person who don’t have symptoms should also use medical masks. Fabric masks are not enough for them. “WHO continues to advise that people caring for an infected person at home should wear a medical mask while they are in the same room as a sick person,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director general of the World Health Organization.