WHO Changes COVID-19 Mask Guidelines – What Does This Mean For You?


The World Health Organization has recently been very vocal and has expended its recommendations for the use of face masks during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Up until now, the agency has mainly recommended that only those who work in health care, those who have COVID-19, and those who look after them, should be wearing medical masks.

But on Friday, the WHO advised that people should wear fabric masks when social distancing is not possible, especially in areas where the virus or spreading and in public places such as shops, hospitals, or public transportation.

Moreover, the Director-General of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, noted that people who are over the age of 60 or have underlying medical conditions should also wear masks in social situations where distancing cannot be maintained.

The previous narrative of the World Health Organization was that only medical personnel, those who have COVID-19, and their caregivers should have access to masks because of a global shortage of supplies.

The WHO also expanded its mask guidelines to further specify that medical workers in areas there the virus is spreading should always be wearing a mask in and outside of medical healthcare facilities. Even doctors from other wards should wear medical masks even if the facility they’re working in has no known coronavirus patients.

The WHO’s technical lead on the COVID-19 pandemic, Maria Van Kerkhove, said that these new recommendations were founded on the new research performed by the United Nations health agency.

Here’s a recap of the extended guidelines:

  • People over the age of 60 and people with underlying health conditions should wear a face mask in settings where social distancing cannot be maintained.


  • Everyone else should wear a three-layer fabric mask: absorbent cotton nearest to the fact, followed by a layer of polypropylene, and finally, a synthetic layer that is resistant to fluids. The WHO envisions that such masks can be made at home, and small businesses can begin producing them quickly and affordably.


  • People should be advised to wear masks not only on public transport, but also in situations where social distancing cannot be maintained – grocery stores, health facilities, social gatherings, schools, churches, mosques, etc.


This announcement made by the WHO marks a major change in the stance on face masks by the WHO, which for now has been avoiding the idea that everyone should be wearing masks in public, due to the lack of evidence that they offer significant protection. There were also fears that worldwide rushes to acquire masks could lead to severe shortages among medical workers.

During a briefing aimed at discussing these new guidelines, Tedros noted that masks on their own will not protect you from catching the coronavirus. He emphasized the importance of washing your hands, maintaining social distancing, and using the preventative measures issued by local governments.

What do other health agencies have to say about this?

Other health agencies, among which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have recommended for a long time that wearing masks or facial coverings by the majority of the general public will definitely slow the spread of the coronavirus. British health authorities keep recommending that face coverings should be compulsory on public transportation and crowded social gatherings.

But the WHO has previously said that the transmission from asymptomatic people is not a particularly significant driver of the coronavirus pandemic.

Even though different health agencies have had various stances on face masks, they all agree on one thing – masks are just a part of our comprehensive strategy toward reducing infections. They do not and are not intended to work alone. They should be used along with a number of other protective measures to achieve a combined effort.

What does this mean for you?

A World Health Organization infection control expert by the name of April Baller has suggested that the type of masks recommended by these new guidelines can and should be made at home. She also noted that part of the reason behind these new face mask guidelines was the increasing evidence that COVID-19 can spread from person to person before they experience any symptoms.

This means that the primary purpose of wearing a mask should be to prevent a person who many actually have the disease to transmitting it to people around them.

The new guidance issued by the WHO has also provided us with more information about what masks could protect people in your community. It remains unknown whether the wearers are protected or not, but the new design they advocate does provide a certain degree of protection if used properly.

Here’s how to make your own cloth mask at home:

  • Cut two rectangles of a T-shirt cloth or tightly-woven cotton sized 25 cm wide and 15 cm high.


  • Next, fold and stitch the top and bottom edges of the cloth.


  • Fold and switch the edges on each side, leaving a gap that you can threat elastic through.


  • Next, threat two 15cm elastic lengths through each side and tie them on tight. If you don’t have elastic, you can use string or hair ties.


  • Finally, tuck your elastic knots inside the edges of the mask and stitch it in place, and you’ve got yourself a cloth mask.

Where to buy face masks?

If you’re looking to buy disposable face masks:

Browse Clinical Supplies USA’s collection of face masks in our store here.


If you’re looking to buy N-95 respirator face masks:

Browse Clinical Supplies USA’s collection of face masks in our store here.


If you’re looking to purchase wholesale face masks for sale/distribution to your local community:

Reach out to us and inquire for any purchase above 2,000 units here.


Clinical Supplies USA is an American co-owned and run company specializing in providing quality protective supplies such as KN95 and 3ply masks, hand sanitizers, face shields, gloves, and more.


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