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WHO advises the public to wear a mask as Sri Lanka sees a big jump in numbers

WEAR A MASK – WHO Chief Tedros Adhanom says masks are a part of a comprehensive strategy in the fight against COVID-19

ECONOMYNEXT – The World Health Organisation is updating its stance on wearing masks as a COVID 19 prevention measure the Reuters News agency reported today, asking everyone to wear fabric face masks in public where there is a risk of infection.

This came as Sri Lanka noted a near 50 per cent jump in cases in the past 3 weeks.

Sri Lanka has already mandated that everybody wear masks in public, even though the WHO had earlier did not say masks were compulsory.

Reuters reported that in its new guidance, prompted by evidence from studies conducted in recent weeks, the WHO stressed that face masks were only one of a range of tools that can reduce the risk of viral transmission, and should not give a false sense of protection.

“Masks on their own will not protect you from COVID-19,” the WHO’s director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters at a briefing.

Reuters reported the WHO’s technical lead expert on COVID-19, Maria Van Kerkhove, as saying “We are advising governments to encourage that the general public wears a mask. And we specify a fabric mask – that is, a non-medical mask.”

Local experts we spoke to said that the hi-tech medical masks may be too restrictive and make a person breathless.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka has seen a staggering 48 per cent increase in confirmed COVID 19 cases in the last three weeks, according to the Health Department.

The total number of COVID 19 cases since the outbreak climbed to 1,810 today as nine more confirmed patients were recorded.

CURVING UPWARDS – The graph tracking the COVID 19 cases is trending upwards due to two clusters

The total number confirmed stood at 935 cases on May 16 and 875 more were added in this period.

Of all of them have come from two active clusters, the Sri Lanka Navy and returning migrant workers, according to statistics released by the Epidemiology Unit of the Ministry of Health.

The number produced by the Navy cluster stands at 891 and the returnees total is 520, the daily situation reports of the Epidemiology Unit said.

The Sri Lankan Health authorities are maintaining that there is no “Community Transmission” of the disease and that all new patients can be traced to known patients or Index Cases. (Colombo, June 6, 2020)

Reported by Arjuna Ranawana