World Health Organization officials said they still recommend people not wear face masks unless they are sick with COVID-19, or caring for someone who is sick.
WHO says there are risks of misusing the masks and getting infected instead. The report was also published by CNN news online.
“There is no specific evidence to suggest that the wearing of masks by the mass population has any potential benefit. In fact, there’s some evidence to suggest the opposite in the misuse of wearing a mask properly or fitting it properly,” Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO health emergencies program, said at a media briefing in Geneva, Switzerland, on Monday.
He also said another issue is the a massive global shortage.
“Right now the people most at risk from this virus are frontline health workers who are exposed to the virus every second of every day. The thought of them not having masks is horrific.”
Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, an infectious disease epidemiologist with the WHO, also said at Monday’s briefing that it is important to prioritize the use of masks for those who need it most which would be frontline health care workers.
“The masks that we recommend are for people who are at home, who are sick, and for those individuals who are caring for those people who are home that are sick,” she said.
World Health Organization officials warned at a media briefing last week that globally there is a “significant shortage” of medical supplies, including personal protective gear or PPE, for doctors.
WHO called on countries to work with companies to increase production; to ensure the free movement of essential health products; and to ensure equitable distribution of those products, based on need.
Specific attention should be given to low- and middle-income countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.