Coronavirus News Asia

US now urges face masks to stop virus spread


President Donald Trump on Friday recommended that Americans cover their faces with masks when outdoors, a policy U-turn following growing scientific research suggesting their widespread use can stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Trump told a White House briefing that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was urging people to wear face coverings like scarves or homemade cloth masks, but to keep medical-grade masks available for health workers.

“It’s going to be really a voluntary thing,” he underlined. “You don’t have to do it and I’m choosing not to do it, but some people may want to do it and that’s okay.”

The about-face was widely expected after senior health officials told reporters the scientific evidence had evolved.

Speaking to Fox News on Friday, Anthony Fauci, head of infectious diseases at the National Institutes of Health, cited “recent information that the virus can actually be spread even when people just speak as opposed to coughing and sneezing.”

Days earlier, the CDC’s Robert Redfield said up to a quarter of people who are infected may be asymptomatic.

Taken together, the developments represent powerful arguments in favor of the widespread use of facial coverings.

Previously, the advice was that masks should only be used by sick people and their caregivers.


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