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WHO consultant: Healthy people do not have to wear masks

Dr. Albert Domingo, a World Health Organization (WHO) consultant for Health Systems Strengthening, said on Thursday evening that healthy individuals did not need to wear a face mask to prevent the novel coronavirus (nCOV) from infecting them.



"Instead, avoid crowds. Maintain a distance of at least 1 meter from anyone who is coughing or sneezing. Wash your hands often, or use an alcohol-based hand rub if the hands do not look dirty," he wrote in a Twitter thread.

"Wear a face mask ONLY if you have fever, cough, colds, difficulty breathing or other respiratory symptoms. If you are not sick, then a mask is NOT required," Domingo added.

Should people still choose to use a face mask, they must wear it properly, by ensuring that it covers the mouth and nose.

He said that it must also be securely tied "to minimize any gaps between the face and mask."

While masks are in use, individuals must avoid touching it.

"When removing the mask, do not touch the front; remove the ties/garter from behind. After removal or whenever you inadvertently touch a used mask, clean hands by using an alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water if visibly dirty," the doctor wrote.

According to the health consultant, as soon as masks become damp or humid, they must be replaced with new, clean and dry ones.

"Do not re-use single-use masks. Discard single-use masks after each use and dispose of them immediately upon removal. Cloth (e.g. cotton or gauze) masks are not recommended under any circumstance," Domingo said.

At the end of his Twitter thread, he shared a new WHO publication giving advice on using masks during the nCoV outbreak. 

On Thursday afternoon, the Philippines confirmed its first nCoV case.

The patient, a Chinese woman who arrived in the Philippines from Wuhan, China, is currently confined in San Lazaro hospital according to Senator Bong Go.

As of Thursday, the nCoV virus has claimed the lives of 170 people in China with more than 7,700 cases. — BAP, GMA News