Does WHO recommend the use of fabric masks for the general public?
At the present time, the widespread use of masks everywhere is not supported by high-quality scientific evidence, and there are potential benefits and harms to consider.
However, there are some settings in which it may not be possible to keep physical distancing and the use of a mask could be helpful to provide a barrier to limit the spread of potentially infectious droplets from someone who is infected. In addition, there is some evidence which suggests that some infected people without showing symptoms may be able to transmit the virus others.
For this reason, WHO advises that governments should encourage the use of non-medical fabric masks, which can act as a barrier to prevent the spread of the virus from the wearer to others where there are many cases of COVID-19, for people in the general public where physical distancing of at least 1 metre is not possible – such as, on public transport, in shops or in other confined or crowded environments.
It is important to note that masks should only be used as part of a comprehensive strategy. Masks on their own will not protect you from COVID-19. People should also clean their hands frequently and maintain a distance of at least 1 metre from others.