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WHO tightens guidelines on mask-wearing in Covid problem areas

GENEVA: People living in areas where Covid-19 is spreading should always wear masks in shops, workplaces and schools that lack adequate ventilation, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said yesterday.

If they cannot maintain physical distancing of at least 1m, people in such locations - including children and students aged 12 and over - should also wear a mask even if the spaces are well-ventilated, it said in a tightening of its guidelines.

They should also wear masks outdoors if physical distancing cannot be maintained, it said.

WHO spokesman Margaret Harris said the recommendations were among the biggest changes to its guidance on mask-wearing, and updated advice given in June.

"If indoors, unless ventilation has been assessed to be adequate, WHO advises that the general public wear a non-medical mask, regardless of whether physical distancing of at least 1m can be maintained," WHO said. It also advised "universal masking" in all health care facilities, including common areas such as cafeterias and staff rooms.

Health workers could wear N95 masks if available when caring for Covid-19 patients, but the only proven protection is when they are doing aerosol-generating procedures, WHO said. - REUTERS

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