The World Health Organization (WHO) says healthy people should only wear masks when taking care of someone infected with COVID-19. This contradicts the advice from American public health officials who say everyone should wear a mask when in public.
“If you do not have any respiratory symptoms such as fever, cough or runny nose, you do not need to wear a mask,” said Dr. April Baller, a public health specialist for the WHO, in a video posted in March. “Masks should only be used by health care workers, caretakers or by people who are sick with symptoms of fever and cough.”
Their recommendation differs from that of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC urges individuals to wear a face-covering in public.
“We now know from recent studies that a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms (‘asymptomatic’) and that even those who eventually develop symptoms (‘pre-symptomatic’) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms,” says the CDC mask guidance. “CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.”
“The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance,” CDC added.
According to Baller, the masks may give people a “false feeling of protection.”