According to the WHO, unnecessary or bad usage of masks can even help in spreading the virus, rather than contain it.
“There is no specific evidence to suggest that the wearing of masks by the mass population has any potential benefit. In fact, there’s some evidence to suggest the opposite in the misuse of wearing a mask properly or fitting it properly,” Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO health emergencies program, said at a media briefing in Geneva, Switzerland, on Monday.
“There also is the issue that we have a massive global shortage,” Ryan said about masks and other medical supplies.
“Right now the people most at risk from this virus are frontline health workers who are exposed to the virus every second of every day. The thought of them not having masks is horrific.”
Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, an infectious disease epidemiologist with the WHO, also said it is important “we prioritize the use of masks for those who need it most,”
“In the community, we do not recommend the use of wearing masks unless you yourself are sick and as a measure to prevent onward spread from you if you are ill,” Van Kerkhove said.
“The masks that we recommend are for people who are at home and who are sick and for those individuals who are caring for those people who are home that are sick,” she said.