According to the newest guideline issued in the interest of the pandemic by WHO, it has been advised that people over the age of 60 years or the ones suffering from a chronic illness should wear a medical-grade face mask whenever and wherever they are not able to follow the norms of social distancing.
The aforesaid announcement by WHO given on Friday is remarkably different from the previous ones as until now, they had been quite unenthusiastic towards promoting the use of face masks due to lack of evidence regarding the effectiveness of using masks that is whether they provide protection or not.
To keep oneself healthy in such a critical situation is a very difficult task. As per the new document, which aids in keeping the body healthy, all the people aged 60 and above and the people suffering from chronic illness are advised to wear masks in a situation where they are not able to guidelines of social distancing. As there are increased chances for these people to get infected.
World Health Organization has also proposed that all the other people should wear a three-layered fabric mask as well. The first layer should be made of absorbent cotton, which is the innermost layer closest to the face, the second layer should be a propylene layer followed by lastly a synthetic layer, which is fluid-resistant. It has been deliberated that these masks can be easily made at home, but the small companies have already begun to produce masks in order to create business for themselves and generate employment as well.
According to WHO, the masks are to be worn in areas mostly where physical distancing has become impossible to follow such as on buses, trains, grocery stores, at social gatherings, at mass gatherings, at work and in closed settings such as in churches, temples, mosques and other places of worship.
Till this time, WHO was not very enthusiastic about advising the use of masks primarily because of two reasons- First, there wasn’t enough evidence to support that the fact that the use of masks provides protection. Secondly, they feared that they might suffer from a shortage of face masks and hence will not able to provide masks or health grade workers.
This new guidance issued by WHO was based on the study regarding which types of face masks will be able to protect the people in the community. Yet it is not known that whether these masks will be able to provide protection or not, but the experts say that if these masks are properly and carefully used then, it might protect against the disease. However, it is utterly important to understand that in no way masks can act as a substitute for social distancing and hand hygiene.
The Head of the Covid-19 response team and the head of the emerging diseases and zoonosis unit at WHO, Dr. Maria Van Kherkove, expressed her thoughts on the belied of people regarding the effectiveness of the masks while participating in protests the recent one held over the killing of George Floyd in the U.S. She said that there are thousands of gatherings that are taking place in different parts of the world. The people putting handmade masks and heading out and getting the feeling of protection are in deep waters.
She also says that the masks play an important role in the comprehensive strategy of protection against the pandemic; however, it is important to understand the fact that these masks do not work alone. There are numerous other measures to be followed along with it. It is very important for people to stay home if they are feeling even slightly unwell. They should get themselves tested, their probable contacts must be identified and they should be quarantined immediately. Also, when stepping outside the home, it should be kept in mind that physical distancing of at least 1 meter is very important as it prevents transmission.
The director-general of WHO, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has come forward with the affirmation that the WHO’s response towards the positive outcome of using masks remains the same. He further says that however, the study regarding the positive use outcomes is evolving slowly, WHO has advised the governments to mandate the use of masks, especially in public places, public transport, and the shops or the confined or crowded environment.
Apart from the three layers that the masks should contain as mentioned above, the instructions regarding the washing of masks have also been issued. It has been said that the people who are continually adjusting the masks or taking it off and on without washing the hands properly in between are pre-disposed to rising themselves more towards catching the disease.
All the people who are taking care of sick people are advised to use a medical mask instead of a regular fabric one. Tedros says that the person who is taking care of infected people at home is directed to use a medical-grade mask whilst they are in the same room as the sick person whilst taking care of him/her.
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