The World Health Organization held a media briefing on June 5 to update the public on the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. WHO and The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now agree that cloth face coverings can be effective as a simple barrier to help prevent respiratory droplets from traveling into the air and onto other people when the person wearing the cloth face covering coughs, sneezes, talks or raises their voice.
The WHO had previously recommended against the wearing of medical masks by the general public given the global PPE shortage. It had been reluctant to advocate for wider usage of non-medical masks by healthy people given the lack of data available at the time.
One change from its previous recommendation states: “The general public should wear non-medical masks where there is widespread transmission and when physical distancing is difficult, such as on public transport, in shops or in other confined or crowded environments.”
WHO recommends that people consult local authorities on recommended practices in their area.
If there is widespread community transmission, and especially in settings where physical distancing cannot be maintained, governments should encourage the general public to wear a fabric mask.
The latest information from the CDC, updated Sunday, says cloth face coverings can help slow the spread of COVID-19.
CDC recommends that people wear cloth face coverings in public settings and when around people outside of their household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
Cloth face coverings may help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others.
Cloth face coverings are most likely to reduce the spread of COVID-19 when they are widely used by people in public settings.
Cloth face coverings should NOT be worn by children under the age of 2 or anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.