Should Children Wear Masks? Here’s What the WHO Has to Say
Children over 12 years of age should wear masks in the same contexts as adults in order to protect themselves from the novel coronavirus, recommends the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The WHO in collaboration with UNICEF studied the meagre data available on children’s contribution to the spread of the virus, and on the benefits of mask-wearing for children.
What Did They Find?
Based on the findings of their appraisal, their advice for children varies according to different age groups.
“Children aged 12 and over should wear a mask under the same conditions as adults, in particular when they cannot guarantee at least a one-metre distance from others and there is widespread transmission in the area.”WHO
The UN agencies also said that children under five should not wear a mask. "This is based on the safety and overall interest of the child and the capacity to appropriately use a mask with minimal assistance," they said.
They further suggested that it is advisable for children between the ages of 6 to 11 to wear a mask under certain special circumstances. This could apply to public places where there may be a widespread transmission of the virus, or when interacting with the elderly, who are at a high risk of developing a more severe illness from the virus. Adult supervision is also recommended to see that the mask if being worn safely.
Children should not be expected to wear masks when playing sports or engaging in physical activity, "so that it doesn't compromise their breathing." The advisory instead emphasises on limiting contact with others and maintaing proper distance in social settings.
The new guideline also suggests that for children with disabilities, developmental disorders, or health conditions that impede the wearing of a mask, “the use of masks should not be mandatory.”
The advisory admits that there is not much evidence on children’s contribution the spread of the coronavirus. The limited study available on the matter indicates that children have lower proneness to the disease as compared to adults, and that teenagers "may play a more active role in transmission than younger children."
(With inputs from Deccan Herald)
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