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WHO recommends general public to use masks as novel coronavirus prevention

The World Health Organization is broadening its recommendations for the use of masks during the coronavirus pandemic.

It said Friday it is now advising that in areas where the virus is spreading, people should wear fabric masks when social distancing is not possible, such as on public transportation and in shops. "We are advising governments to encourage that the general public wear a mask. And we specify a fabric mask - that is, a non-medical mask," the WHO said. WHO previously had recommended that only health care workers, people with COVID-19 and their caregivers wear medical masks.

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WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also said that hand-washing, social distancing and other infection-prevention strategies are always a must do. Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO's technical lead on COVID-19, said the updated recommendations were based on new research commissioned by the UN health agency. It had always recommended that medical masks be worn by people who are sick and by those caring for them. The coronavirus COVID-19 is affecting 213 countries and territories around the world. There are near seven million coronavirus infections and more than 400,000 deaths.

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