In it’s new guidelines released on the 5th of June 2020, WHO said “Masks can be used either for the protection of healthy individuals (worn to protect oneself when in contact with an infected individual) or for Source Control (worn by an infected individual to prevent onward transmission).”
COVID -19, when declared a pandemic by WHO in February 2020, knew a very little about the virus. It’s transmission, its behaviour and the repercussions it’ll leave in the coming year; no body knew its fate. However, with months passing and a lot of scientists working on developing a vaccine and medicine for the virus, WHO came up with new guidelines for FACE MASKS – advising it to be worn in public to stop its spread, which has caused over 6.7 million cases worldwide with a death toll of nearly 400,000
In a statement at a recent press conference, WHO’s Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the body has updated its guidance keeping in mind evolving evidence. “WHO has developed this guidance through a careful review of all available evidence, and extensive consultation with international experts and civil society groups.”
What are WHO’s new guidelines?
For areas with widespread transmission of the virus, WHO advises medical masks for all people working in health facilities and not only workers in direct contact with the virus. For example, if a doctor is doing a ward round in the cardiology or palliative care units where there are no COVID 19 patients, they still should be wearing a medical mask.
In areas with community transmission, it is advised for people who are 60years and above or those with any underlying medical conditions need to wear a medical mask, in situations where social distancing is not possible.
There is also an updated guideline on use of mask by general public in areas with community transmission. Based on the academic research requested by WHO, it is advised that fabric masks should consist of at least three layers of different material. “A minimum of 3 layers is required for non-medical masks, depending on the fabric used. The innermost layer of the mask is in contact with the wearer’s face. The outermost layer is exposed to the environment,” the advisory adds.
Ideal combination of fabric used in making these masks should include three layers:
innermost layer of a hydrophilic material such as cotton or cotton blends.
outermost layer should be made of hydrophobic material such as polyester or polypropylene which can limit external contamination from penetrating through the wearer’s nose and mouth.
the third layer – middle one, should be a non-woven material such as polypropylene or cotton to enhance filtration or retain droplets.
While wearing a mask, make sure the it seals your face properly at the curvature of the nose and cheek bones as air will always find a way through these gaps.