New Delhi, June 08: The World Health Organisation has said that face masks made from cloth should not be used in places where social distancing norms are not followed.
In settings where physical distancing cannot be achieved and an increased risk of invention and or negative outcomes exist, then a medical mask should be preferred over a fabric one, the WHO said.
In an advisory, the WHO also said that anyone who is above the age of 60 or those with pre-existing health conditions including cardiovascular diseases, lung disease, diabetes, cancer of other underlying co-morbidities, must wear only a medical mask for their own protection.
While masks made from cloth can be used for activities such as public transport, their use should always be accompanied by frequent hand hygiene and physical distancing, the WHO also said.
WHO has recently changed its guidance on face masks, saying that people over 60 or with health issues should wear a medical-grade mask when they are out and cannot socially distance, while all others should wear a three-layer fabric mask.
The evidence on the protective value of single-use paper masks or reusable cloth coverings is less clear, but still suggests that face masks can contribute to reducing transmission of Covid-19. Analysis by the Royal Society said this included homemade cloth face masks.
Masks, eye protection key to stopping spread of COVID-19 says study
Wearing face masks, eye protection and maintaining two metres distance from others are the most effective ways to stop the spread of COVID-19, according to a study.
However, none of these interventions, even when properly used and combined offer complete protection from the infection. Other protective measures such as hand hygiene are needed to reduce the spread of the disease, according to a review of 172 studies from 16 countries published in the highly cited journal, The Lancet says.
The study found that the risk of the infection was 2.6 per cent when people stand more than a metre away from the infected people, against 12.8 per cent if they were within a metre. The analysis further said that masks and protective eye coverings also add protective benefits, through the evidence for that was less clear cut.