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WHO updates their guidance on face masks on 5 June 2020 and the UK follows their advice

On Thursday 4 June 2020 I published the article "A face mask: To Wear or Not To Wear and How To Maximise Your Protection Against COVID-19" pointing out the growing body of evidence that wearing a face mask increases your chances of not getting infected with COVID-19 and covered the experience of other countries in relation to the introduction of compulsory "face covering" and a subsequent drop in the number of COVID-19 cases.

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It is worth noting that CDC was already recommending using face masks and even cloth face coverings when in public. CDC stressed the importance of not using surgical/medical masks by the general public as they are needed by the medical staff.

On 5 June 2020 WHO finally changed its guidelines on using face masks and it now advises that face masks should be worn in public to stop the spread of COVID-19. Previously WHO advised wearing a mask if you were sick or caring for the sick.

The changes made to the WHO guidance on 5 June 2020 suggest that everyone should wear a cloth face covering.

You can watch this video about how to make your own cloth face covering:

The revised WHO guidelines further state that anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 must start wearing a surgical/medical mask apart from self-isolation measure.

You can read about the different types of masks and the level of protection that they provide in this article

WHO now advises the public to wear masks in places where social distancing is difficult to maintain such as shops, public transport and other confined spaces.

In line with the WHO advice, the UK has made face masks compulsory on public transport from 15th June 2020. If you travel without a face covering from 15th June 2020 onwards, you will be refused an entry to the public transport. There are not many details now about how the government is planning to control this but we will soon see it in practice.

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Medical and healthcare staff, regardless whether they deal with COVID-19 patients or not, are now also required to wear face masks including those attending the hospital.

These changes with regards to the face masks are coming into force a bit late in light of the protests related to the death of George Floyd-too many people have been out protesting without adhering to social distancing measures. We can expect to see a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases due to this in the coming weeks.

It is important to remember that just a face mask is not enough to prevent COVID-19 transmission. Hand washing or the use of hand rubs along with social distancing measures in addition to wearing a cloth face covering or a mask are essential in decreasing COVID-19 spread.

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