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Should children wear a mask?

Release time: 2021-02-24

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Should children wear a mask?

WHO advises that people always consult and abide by local authorities on recommended practices in their area. An international and multidisciplinary expert group brought together by WHO reviewed evidence on COVID-19 disease and transmission in children and the limited available evidence on the use of masks by children.


Based on this and other factors such as childrens’ psychosocial needs and developmental milestones, WHO and UNICEF advise the following:

Children aged 5 years and under should not be required to wear masks. This is based on the safety and overall interest of the child and the capacity to appropriately use a mask with minimal assistance.


wearing a mask


WHO and UNICEF advise that the decision to use masks for children aged 6-11 should be based on the following factors:

· Whether there is widespread transmission in the area where the child resides

· The ability of the child to safely and appropriately use a mask

· Access to masks, as well as laundering and replacement of masks in certain settings (such as schools and childcare services)

· Adequate adult supervision and instructions to the child on how to put on, take off and safely wear masks

· Potential impact of wearing a mask on learning and psychosocial development, in consultation with teachers, parents/caregivers and/or medical providers

· Specific settings and interactions the child has with other people who are at high risk of developing serious illness, such as the elderly and those with other underlying health conditions


KN95-KM1095 Face Mask


WHO and UNICEF advise that children aged 12 and over should wear a mask under the same conditions as adults, in particular when they cannot guarantee at least a 1-metre distance from others and there is widespread transmission in the area.


What type of mask should children wear?

Children who are in general good health can wear a non-medical or fabric mask. This provides source control, meaning it keeps the virus from being transmitted to others if they are infected and are not aware that they are infected. The adult who is providing the mask should ensure the fabric mask is the correct size and sufficiently covers the nose, mouth and chin of the child.


KN95-KM1095 Face Mask


Children with underlying health conditions such as cystic fibrosis, cancer or immunosuppression, should, in consultation with their medical providers, wear a medical mask. A medical mask controls spreading of the virus and protection to the wearer, and is recommended for anyone who is at higher risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19.


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