The World Health Organisation (WHO) says there is no evidence that masks protect those who are not infected from contracting the virus. Picture: Timothy Bernard/ African News Agency (ANA)
The World Health Organisation (WHO) says there is no evidence that masks protect those who are not infected from contracting the virus. Picture: Timothy Bernard/ African News Agency (ANA)

Masks won't protect you from being infected by coronavirus, says WHO

By Brenda Masilela Time of article published Mar 31, 2020

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Pretoria - The World Health Organisation (WHO) has advised against people who wear masks with no coronavirus symptoms saying masks do not offer protection against Covid-19.

WHO warned that masks used improperly can be a source of infections.

The agency said that people who are healthy should not wear masks, however recommended the use of masks in specific case.

“If you have a cough, fever and difficulty breathing, you should wear a mask and seek medical care. If you don't have these symptoms, you don't have to wear a mask. Because there is no evidence that they protect people who are not sick.

“However, if you are healthy but you are taking care of a person who may be infected with the new coronavirus, then you should wear a mask whenever you are in the same room with that person.

“And remember if you choose to wear a mask, use it and discard it properly and clean your hands with alcohol hand run or soap and water,” said WHO’s consultant, infection prevention and control, Christine Francis.

The agency said masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning with alcohol-based hand sanitiser or soap and water.

“Before putting on a mask, clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water. Cover mouth and nose with mask and make sure there are no gaps between your face and the mask.

“Avoid touching the mask while using it; if you do, clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.

“Replace the mask with a new one as soon as it is damp and do not re-use single-use masks.

“To remove the mask, remove it from behind, do not touch the front of mask, discard immediately in a closed bin; clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water,” said Dr April Baller, who heads the WHO's clinical management and infection control and prevention teams.

Meanwhile, hospital workers in the United States (US) in Washington, have been making protective medical gear out of office supplies and other run-of-the-mill materials as they deal with a severe shortage of equipment needed to care for patients who may have Covid-19.

Bloomberg says that the shortage of personal protective equipment at the Washington-based medical provider is a nationwide situation, as hospitals and doctors scramble to treat thousands of patients who may be infected with the new respiratory virus.

The WHO has called on industry and governments to increase manufacturing of surgical masks and protective gear by 40% to meet rising global demand.

African News Agency (ANA)

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