Tuesday 29 September, 2020

PAHO: Homemade cloth masks may not prevent coronavirus transmissions

Across the Caribbean, Governments have been recommending that citizens use masks, particularly homemade ones fashioned from cloth, when venturing outdoors to prevent themselves from either transmitting or becoming infected with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

However, the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) said science on the effectiveness of these masks are still unknown.

Speaking at today’s PAHO conference on COVID-19, Assistant Director Dr Jarbas Barbosa said: “We don’t have strong scientific evidence that these will play an important role to reduce the velocity of the transmission. Maybe in a couple of weeks, with many countries making this kind of recommendations, we will have the studies to show this can play a role.”

Barbosa called on authorities to remind citizens that “this is not a silver bullet that will protect them from COVID-19 infection.”

Barbosa recommended these masks can be used on public transport or in slums.

But, anyone using them should practice social distancing and good hygiene such as the washing of hands.

He said surgical, N95 and other medical-grade masks should only be used by health workers who are on the front line treating COVID-19 patients.

Caribbean countries such as Trinidad and Tobago, which recommended the use of cloth masks, based their decision on a recommendation from the US Centre for Disease Control (CDC).

The CDC recommended cloth face coverings “to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.”

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