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WHO updates face masks recommendations

The World Health Organization (WHO) has released updated guidance on the use of face masks in the context of coronavirus. RBC reports.

The document, in particular, states that people should wear masks outdoors where physical distancing of at least 1 meter cannot be maintained.

«WHO advises that the general public should wear a non-medical mask in indoor (e.g. shops, shared workplaces, schools) where physical distancing of at least 1 meter cannot be maintained. ­ If indoors, unless ventilation has been assessed to be adequate, WHO advises that the general public should wear a non-medical mask, regardless of whether physical distancing of at least 1 meter can be maintained,» the guidance says.

People with higher risk of severe complications from COVID-19 (individuals > 60 years old and those with underlying conditions such as cardiovascular disease or diabetes mellitus, chronic lung disease, cancer, cerebrovascular disease or immunosuppression) should wear medical masks when physical distancing of at least 1 meter cannot be maintained.

Children aged up to five years should not wear masks. For children between six and 11 years of age, a riskbased approach should be applied to the decision to use a mask; factors to be considered in the risk-based approach include intensity of SARS-CoV-2 transmission, child’s capacity to comply with the appropriate use of masks and availability of appropriate adult supervision, local social and cultural environment, and specific settings such as households with elderly relatives, or schools.

Homemade fabric masks of three-layer structure (based on the fabric used) are advised.

Factory-made fabric masks should meet the minimum thresholds related to three essential parameters: filtration, breathability and fit.

Exhalation valves are discouraged because they bypass the filtration function of the fabric mask rendering it unserviceable for source control.

WHO also does not recommend to use protective plastic face shields, as they do not protect against splashing saliva when coughing or sneezing. But they can be an alternative, if a cloth or medical mask cannot be worn. In this case, the shields should cover the chin and sides of the face.

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