The US has taken the extraordinary step of urging everyone to wear masks — prompting WHO to reconsider its stance that they only be worn by the sick.
The US has taken the extraordinary step of urging everyone to wear masks — prompting WHO to reconsider its stance that they only be worn by the sick.

Entire country ordered to wear masks

Everyone in the United States is now being urged to wear homemade cloth masks to prevent coronavirus cases from skyrocketing further - however President Donald Trump has so far said he will not comply with the request.

The drastic new measure comes despite current World Health Organisation saying that masks should only be worn by medical staff, the ill and those in close contact with a coronavirus case.

WHO is currently convening a panel of advisers to discuss whether this advice should change on the back of the US' new measure.

The panel's chair Professor David Heymann told the BBC WHO was "opening up its discussion" about whether it should recommend widespread mask wearing to prevent coronavirus.

People across the US are now being urged to wear masks. Picture: AP Photo/Michael Dwyer.
People across the US are now being urged to wear masks. Picture: AP Photo/Michael Dwyer.

MASKS TO STOP THOSE WHO 'LACK SYMPTOMS' FROM SPREADING VIRUS

On Friday the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended that everyone in the US wear masks when out in public, not just medical staff or those who are unwell.

In a statement the CDC said the recommendation was being made as "recent studies that a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms" and even those who do get symptoms of coronavirus can spread the disease before they appear.

Because of this the CDC said people should wear "cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission".

However the CDC also asked people not to wear surgical masks or N-95 respirators as these "critical supplies must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders".

Instead, the CDC is advising people to use non-surgical masks or cloth coverings "fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials".

PEOPLE URGED TO USE 'CREATIVITY' TO MAKE MASKS

The CDC's message was echoed by Dr Anthony Fauci, US director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Dr Fauci urged people not to "buy and hoard" masks as a result of the new directive and instead use your "own creativity" to come up with a solution.

"We want to make sure that people don't all of a sudden go out, buy and hoard masks that are most appropriately used and necessary for the frontline health care workers, who do need it for the clear and present danger they find themselves in when they are taking care of people who are actually sick with coronavirus disease," he told PBS.

"So we want to make sure that this issue of having a broader community approach towards putting on a facial covering doesn't in fact get in the way of the primary purpose of masks.

"In that regard, that's why what we're talking about are things that may not necessarily need to be a classical mask but could be some sort of facial covering.

President Donald Trump has said he won’t wear a mask. Picture: AP Photo/Alex Brandon
President Donald Trump has said he won’t wear a mask. Picture: AP Photo/Alex Brandon

RELATED: Scientist's plea for Australians to wear masks

"You know, we're pretty good in making things in a way that becomes spontaneously effective just because of your own creativity."

Despite the CDC's recommendation President Trump told reporters he would not be wearing a mask as he doesn't want to greet "presidents, prime ministers, dictators, kings queens" wearing one.

"I won't be doing it, personally … I don't know, somehow, I don't see it for myself," he said.

However Mr Trump's wife and first lady Melania Trump saw it differently and in a tweet urged people to follow the CDC's new measure.

 

The United States has the most confirmed coronavirus cases of any country in the world with more than 276,000 reported instances - more than double the rate of Italy, who has the second most cases.

So far more than 73000 people have died of coronavirus with much of the country - including population dense states New York and California - in lockdown.

Originally published as Entire country ordered to wear masks



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