WHO recommends use of masks in crowded areas

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The World Health Organization (WHO) recommended to continue face mask-wearing in specific situations, regardless of any local epidemiological situation, given current spread of Covid-19 worldwide.

WHO detailed face covering should be worn after a recent exposure to COVID-19, when someone has or suspects having being infected, is at high risk, and also if they are in a crowded, closed or poorly ventilated space.

After updating pandemic-related guidelines, WHO reported there are other cases in which a face covering may be suggested, depending on a risk assessment.

Factors to be considered include local epidemiological trends or increased community hospitalization and vaccination coverage levels.

WHO´s updated guidelines, on the other hand, ordered to reduce isolation period for infected patients and suggested a 10-day isolation from the date of symptom onset for patients with symptoms, which means a three-day reduction.

For those who come back positive, but have no signs or symptoms, WHO suggests a five-day isolation, compared to the 10 days previously indicated.

WHO has extended its strong recommendation for the use of nirmatrelvir-ritonavir (also known by its brand name ‘Paxlovid’).

Pregnant or breastfeeding women with non-severe COVID-19 should consult with their doctor to determine whether they should take this drug, due to ‘likely benefits’ and a lack of adverse events having been reported.

Nirmatrelvir-ritonavir was first recommended by WHO in April 2022. WHO strongly recommends its use in mild or moderate COVID-19 patients who are at high-risk of hospitalization. In December 2022, the first generic producer of the drug was prequalified by WHO.

WHO also reviewed the evidence on two other medicines, sotrovimab and casirivimab-imdevimab, and maintains strong recommendations against their use for treating COVID-19. These monoclonal antibody medicines lack or have diminished activity against the current circulating virus variants.

There are currently 6 proven treatment options for patients with COVID-19, three that prevent hospitalization in high-risk persons and three that save lives in those with severe or critical disease. Except for corticosteroids, access to other drugs remains unsatisfactory globally.

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