The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) recently published an update of its technical report for the use of face masks in the community and their effectiveness in reducing the transmission of Covid-19.
Titled “Considerations for the use of face masks in the community in the context of the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant of concern”, the document indicates that wearing a face mask can help curb the spread of Covid-19 by reducing the release of respiratory droplets from asymptomatic / pre-symptomatic individuals or those with mild non-specific symptoms.
In addition, the use of face masks may be adopted to reduce the societal impact associated with absence from work or healthcare pressures due to infection, or to protect vulnerable individuals in particular settings.
For indoor settings: In areas where the public health objective is to reduce ongoing community transmission of Covid-19, wearing a face mask should be considered as one of a range of possible measures in confined public spaces, such as stores, supermarkets, transportation hubs (e.g., ports, airports, train/coach stations) and in public transport.
For outdoor settings: When the public health objective is to limit community transmission and physical distancing is not possible, wearing a face mask should be considered in crowded outdoor settings
In households: The use of a medical face mask or a respirator should be considered for people with symptoms of Covid-19 or confirmed Covid-19 and for the people who share their household, especially when isolation of the person with symptoms of or confirmed Covid-19 is not possible
In care settings: Face masks should be considered, to protect vulnerable people such as the elderly and people with underlying medical conditions. In this case, face masks can be recommended both for vulnerable people and for persons regularly interacting with this population.