Face mask may increase coronavirus risk—WHO Director

Chinese health workers and volunteers pictured wearing face masks and protective jackets to stay safe from Coronavirus (Covid-19)
Chinese health workers and volunteers pictured wearing face masks and protective jackets to stay safe from Coronavirus (Covid-19)

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has advised people not to wear face masks unless they are sick with Covid-19 or caring for sick patients.

Masks may actually increase coronavirus risk, the executive director of the WHO health emergencies program, Mike Ryan said at a briefing Geneva, Switzerland, on Monday according to the CNN.

“There is no specific evidence to suggest that the wearing of masks by the mass population has any potential benefit.

“In fact, there’s some evidence to suggest the opposite in the misuse of wearing a mask properly or fitting it properly,” Mr Ryan said.

WHO earlier raised an outcry on global shortages of face masks and protective suits for caregivers hampered by the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Ryan said the shortage of the items is putting the frontline caregivers at risk of the virus.

“Right now the people most at risk from this virus are frontline health workers who are exposed to the virus every second of every day.

“The thought of them not having masks is horrific,” he said.

The pandemic is having a heavy toll on doctors and health caregivers. Over 3, 000 doctors have been infected in China while 60 doctors have died from the contagion in Italy.

Currently, some people in the most hit countries are sewing masks to help the government to cushion the impact of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, another WHO official, Maria Van Kerkhove, harped on the need to prioritise the use of masks for those who need it most— frontline health care workers.

She also entreated on the proper usage of masks for the right cause.

“In the community, we do not recommend the use of wearing masks unless you yourself are sick and as a measure to prevent onward spread from you if you are ill.

“The masks that we recommend are for people who are at home and who are sick and for those individuals who are caring for those people who are home that are sick,” MsVan Kerkhove said.

Coronavirus factsheet


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