Lengthy after most nations urged their residents to put on masks, and after months of hand-wringing in regards to the high quality of the proof out there, the World Well being Group on Friday endorsed the usage of face masks by the general public to scale back transmission of the coronavirus.
For the reason that starting of the pandemic, surprisingly, the W.H.O. had refused to endorse masks. The announcement was lengthy overdue, critics stated, as masks are a straightforward and cheap safety measure.
Even in its newest steerage, the W.H.O. made its reluctance abundantly clear, saying the usefulness of face masks is “not but supported by prime quality or direct scientific proof,” however that governments ought to encourage masks carrying due to “a rising compendium of observational proof.”
The W.H.O. additionally supplied an exhaustive checklist of the potential disadvantages of carrying a masks, together with “issue with speaking clearly” and “potential discomfort.”
A research funded by the W.H.O. concluded this week that respirator masks, just like the N95, are better than surgical masks for well being care staff. It additionally discovered that face shields, goggles and glasses might supply extra safety from the coronavirus.
However the W.H.O. didn’t budge from its earlier suggestions for medical staff, saying that respirator masks are solely wanted if such staff are concerned in procedures that generate virus-laden aerosols — droplets smaller than 5 microns.
Other than these circumstances, transmission of the virus to date has solely been demonstrated for bigger droplets and by contact, stated Dr. Benedetta Allegranzi, an infectious illness skilled and technical lead for the W.H.O.
Whereas research have proven that viral R.N.A. is current within the air in sure well being care settings, “transmission is completely different, and it has not been demonstrated,” she stated.
“It’s disappointing that the W.H.O. is dismissing that newest proof that N95s are far more practical than surgical masks in defending well being care staff from Covid-19 publicity,” stated David Michaels, an epidemiologist at George Washington College who headed the Occupational Security and Well being Administration through the Obama administration.
“If the issue is the scarcity of N95s, the W.H.O. ought to acknowledge that and never fake that medical masks are equally efficient.”