US changes course on mask recommendation

US now recommends face masks for healthy people as concern of asymptomatic spread increases

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(Wallpaper Flare photo)

(Wallpaper Flare photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — As more research supports the idea that wearing a face mask can help prevent the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19), the U.S. has made an about-face on its mask recommendations.

Up until recently, healthy people in the U.S. had been advised not to wear a face mask in public, as the practice had been considered ineffective in protecting them from the virus. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) changed its recommendations on Friday (April 3) and now suggests that healthy people consider wearing them, particularly in situations where others may be in close proximity, Fox News reported.

During an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity on Friday, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams, who had previously urged healthy people to stop buying face masks, explained that the revelation that asymptomatic individuals could also spread the virus is what made the CDC and President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force adjust their recommendation. This may strike many as odd, given that asymptomatic spread has been widely reported since soon after the initial outbreak.

Adams emphasized that the new mask recommendation merely augments social distancing and is not meant to replace it. He also recommends that people who wear a mask pay special attention to hand hygiene.

Dr. Marc Siegel, a professor at New York University School of Medicine, stated on Fox News that recent research suggests the novel coronavirus is so contagious,even a short conversation can lead to transmission.

As if taking a cue from the U.S., Taiwan announced tighter mask measures as well. The island country will now require people to wear them when taking public transport or visiting public facilities.

Soon, Taiwan will announce new guidelines requiring masks for vendors at night markets, traditional markets, restaurant workers, and possibly even patrons, CNA reported.