Children over 12 should wear face masks to combat Covid, says WHO

Children aged 12 and over should wear face masks to help tackle the pandemic, according to the World Health Organisation.

It advised that where there is widespread transmission, and 1-metre social distancing is not possible, masks should be worn.

The guidance from WHO comes less than two weeks before pupils return to school, and is the first time the body has specifically issued guidance for children.

However, the UK Government says masks are “not recommended” for primary or secondary school students.

More data needed

A few schools, such as James Gillespie’s high school in Edinburgh, and Eaton Mill primary school in Milton Keynes, have said that children should wear masks.

The WHO emphasised more data was needed to better understand the role of children and adolescents in the transmission of coronavirus.

It recommends children aged six to 11 should wear masks on a risk-based approach, taking into account transmission rates, the child’s ability to use the mask and adequate adult supervision.

No masks for under-5s

Those aged under five years should not wear masks, the body stressed based on the safety and overall interest of the child.

The WHO first advised adults to wear masks in public in June, and the Government made them compulsory in shops in England from 24 July.

This month Gavin Williamson, the UK’s Education Secretary, said that research by Public Health England indicated there was little risk of the virus being transmitted at school, but the agency subsequently stated that secondary school pupils were just as likely as adults to transmit the virus.

By Charlie Duffield