The World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday updated its guidance to recommend that governments ask everyone to wear fabric face masks in public areas where there is a risk of transmission of COVID-19 to help reduce the spread of the pandemic disease.
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.
While some countries and U.S. states have recommended or mandated the wearing of face coverings in public, the WHO had previously said there was not enough evidence for or against the use of masks for healthy people in the wider community.
It had always recommended that medical masks be worn by people who are sick and by those caring for them.
Britain has said masks will be compulsory for passengers on buses, trains, aircraft and ferries in England from June 15.