Face masks should complement and not replace other preventive measure – ECDC

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The ECDC announced that face masks in the community should complement and not replace other preventive measure.

In its statement the ECD said that the use of face masks in the community should complement and not replace other preventive measures such as physical distancing, staying home when ill, teleworking if possible, respiratory etiquette, meticulous hand hygiene and avoiding touching the face, nose, eyes and mouth.

In a communications issued on Monday, the ECDC said that although the evidence for the use of medical face masks in the community to prevent COVID-19 is limited, face masks should be considered as a non-pharmaceutical intervention in combination with other measures as part of efforts to control the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ECDC said that one takes into account the available evidence, the transmission characteristics of SARS-CoV-2, the feasibility and potential harms associated with the use of various types of face masks, the following options are proposed:

  • In areas with community transmission of COVID-19, wearing a medical or non-medical face mask is recommended in confined public spaces and can be considered in crowded outdoor settings.
  • For people vulnerable to severe COVID-19, such as the elderly or those with underlying medical conditions, the use of medical face masks is recommended as a means of personal protection in the above-mentioned settings.
  • In households, the use of medical face masks is recommended for people with symptoms of COVID-19 or confirmed COVID-19 and for the people who share their household.
  • Based on the assessment of the available scientific evidence, no recommendation can be made on the preferred use of medical or non-medical face masks in the community.
  • When non-medical face masks are used, it is advisable that masks that comply with available guidelines for filtration efficacy and breathability are preferred.

In addition to face masks, the ECDC said the physical distancing, staying home when ill, teleworking if possible, respiratory etiquette, meticulous hand hygiene and avoiding touching the face, nose, eyes and mouth should remain considered as the most significant non-medical preventive measures to combat the coronavirus.

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