WHO about to call for mass masking - Otago academic

Dr Ling Chan, a pathology doctor in Dunedin, and her daughter, Isla Ansell (6), holding her doll...
Dr Ling Chan, a pathology doctor in Dunedin, and her daughter, Isla Ansell (6), holding her doll also called Isla, display some of the cloth masks made in their home office. Photo: Chistine O'Connor
The call for New Zealanders to wear face masks in public is likely to gain momentum within days, with the World Health Organisation (WHO) understood to be on the verge of doing a U-turn on its mask advisory.

Professor Michael Baker, of the University of Otago, Wellington, said today that WHO officials are actively reconsidering the global health organisation's stance on face masks.

"It will almost certainly change," Prof Baker told the Otago Daily Times' Weekend Mix.

To date, WHO has said there is no evidence wearing a mask protects against the virus. It only recommends the use of masks by members of the public who have symptoms or are caring for people infected with Covid-19.

The ODT understands the WHO announcement is likely to be made next week.

New Zealand's Ministry of Health says for most people wearing masks is not recommended.

Prof Michael Baker.  Photo: ODT files
Prof Michael Baker. Photo: ODT files

The Ministry has been asked whether a U-turn by WHO would see it changing its advice to New Zealanders. The Ministry has also been asked whether a change of policy would mean it was compulsory to wear face masks in public.

A response from the Ministry has not yet been received.

An unnamed source said the Ministry was likely to want to keep its advice aligned with that of WHO.

Prof Baker is in favour of face masks.

He said at Level 2 there was still the potential for the virus to be circulating in the country.

Face masks would also give people confidence to use public transport and would mean buses and other public transport could operate at full capacity, he said

"But the main reason is that we would then have masking as something we know.

"It is not yet second nature for us in the Western world," Prof Baker said.

"With better border controls and the use of masks we could have avoided the severe lockdown we had."

Comments

No way! Not going to happen!

money making scheme? or free?

What on earth could convince the WHO to change its position on masks at this late stage ??? !!!
"Prof Baker said. "With better border controls and the use of masks we could have avoided the severe lockdown we had.""
Yes, we could have but I don't think NZ has a stock of masks that could have supplied everyone.
Would it be a good thing if NZers became mask wearers if they had a cold or it was flu season? That's not a hard question to answer, is it, especially with the big push to get us all on public transport and living on top of one another.
Who would WHO be picking on if they suddenly decided that masks are the way to go ???. NZ ???
None of our pandemic leadership made a point of wearing one but I don't think they would be the target !!!!
Who else doesn't wear one ???
Now tell me again, that the WHO is not political.

This is beyond ridiculous. NZ is on the verge of elimination of the Coronavirus that causes Covid 19, our border is closed. My immunity is compromised as I am having chemotherapy; I am more likely to succumb to a bag of potting mix, than develop Covid 19. I will not be adhering to WHO guidelines, except when I get out my bags of potting mix or compost.

"With better border controls and the use of masks we could have avoided the severe lockdown we had". Isn't hindsight a wonderful thing? From my experience in Japan Korea and China wearing a face mask IS 2nd nature but it didn't stop those countries being swamped with the virus. Kiwis are embarrassed to wear a mask. If the prime minister or even the mayor wore a mask then the rest of the sheep would follow.

 

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