The World Health Organization expressed reluctance Monday to endorse face mask use for everyone going outside to protect themselves from coronavirus, saying that there was “limited research” about their effectiveness stopping the pandemic.
Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus acknowledged that countries “want to do everything they can to protect themselves and others” — but said there still needs to be more research on whether the general population would benefit from the added protection.
“What is clear is that there is limited research in this area,” Tedros said at a press briefing. “We encourage countries that are considering the use of masks for the general population to study their effectiveness so we can all learn.”
He said the dwindling supply of masks should be prioritized for health care workers on the frontlines.
But the organization will now recommend the gear outside of medical centers in certain high-risk situations, he said.
“Countries could consider using masks in communities where other measures such as cleaning hands and physical distancing are harder to achieve because of lack of water or cramped living conditions,” Tedros said.
Tedros said they also recommend the use of face masks for people who are sick and those caring for someone infected at home.
“If masks are worn, they must be used safely and properly,” he said.
President Donald Trump announced Friday that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is advising non-medical cloth be used over the face as an “additional voluntary public health measure.”
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