Regional officers on the World Well being Group on Wednesday inspired everybody to proceed to put on face masks in public to scale back coronavirus transmission, even when native authorities not mandate their use.
“Using masks remains to be beneficial,” stated Dr. Ciro Ugarte, director of well being emergencies on the Pan American Well being Group, the regional arm of the W.H.O. for the Western Hemisphere.
Masks have been confirmed to be extremely efficient at lowering transmission of the virus when used correctly, Dr. Ugarte stated in a convention name with reporters and different W.H.O. officers.
“It’s a measure that also continues to be very related and complementary with different measures,” like social distancing, hand-washing and correct indoor air flow, he stated. “Our normal recommendation is that most of the people ought to put on a nonmedical masks indoors, or in out of doors settings the place bodily distancing of at the least one meter can’t be maintained.”
A variety of nations have just lately dropped masks necessities, together with the US, the place a federal masks mandate for public transportation was struck down by a decide on Monday.
“Concerning vacationers and journey by airplane, we all know that using masks has lowered dramatically the transmission throughout touring,” Dr. Ugarte stated when requested concerning the ruling that voided the mandate in the US. He expressed concern that individuals could also be stigmatized for selecting to put on masks when they’re not required.
Masks carrying ought to be made voluntary solely in nations the place there’s nearly no group transmission, and solely when accompanied by elevated testing and vaccination, he stated.
“We’ve seen that in some nations, using masks has been lowered to voluntary ranges, and on the identical time they’ve lowered the detection of circumstances,” Dr. Ugarte stated. “We will’t let our guard down.”
Whereas many nations within the Americas have achieved pretty excessive vaccination charges, some proceed to lag far behind, P.A.H.O. officers stated. Dr. Carissa Etienne, director of the company, famous that Haiti, Jamaica, Guatemala and Paraguay, amongst others, had but to vaccinate half their populations, permitting the virus to maintain taking a lethal toll.
“In some nations, Covid has turn into the No. 1 reason for maternal deaths,” Dr. Etienne stated. “These deaths are avoidable.”
Elsewhere on the planet:
Officers from the W.H.O.’s Japanese Mediterranean area, which incorporates greater than 20 nations in North Africa, the Center East and southwestern Asia, stated on Wednesday that vaccination charges within the area have been too low, with solely about 40 % of individuals absolutely vaccinated. Although new circumstances and coronavirus-related deaths have been declining, transmission stays excessive, making it dangerous to chop again on testing and surveillance, as some nations within the area have been doing, Ahmed Al-Mandhari, the W.H.O.’s regional director, stated at a information convention. The hajj pilgrimage to Mecca over the summer season and the FIFA World Cup match in Qatar within the winter will carry enormous crowds of tourists to the area, and “after all, once you carry numerous individuals collectively, you are concerned about elevated transmission of the illness,” stated Richard Brennan, the W.H.O. area’s director for well being emergencies.
Emma Bubola contributed reporting.