Israel set to ask public to wear surgical masks when going outside

Ynet learns the Health Ministry mulls announcing a U-turn on its previous position that masks yield little benefit in protecting from pathogen, saying the gear offers partial protection as proven by Asian countries with low mortality rates from COVID-19
Health officials set to ask all Israelis to wear surgical masks when leaving their homes in an effort to stop the spread of coronavirus.
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  • The Health Ministry on Monday said the number of COVID-19 cases in the country currently stands at 4,347 with at least 80 people remaining in a serious condition.
    Ynet has learned there have been numerous discussions between officials in the Health Ministry about making the protective face masks obligatory when going outside.
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    ייצור מסכות נגד נגיף הקורונה בסין
    ייצור מסכות נגד נגיף הקורונה בסין
    Surgical masks being produced in China
    (Photo: AFP)
    The move, if implemented, would be in stark contrast to health authorities' previous statements that surgical masks yield very little benefit when it comes to protecting from the spread of pathogen.
    The Health Ministry has always maintained the masks are meant to protect the public from an individual who's sick and whose saliva particles, from coughing or sneezing, would be constrained by the mask and would not spread in the air.
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    מסכות וקורונה
    מסכות וקורונה
    People with surgical masks in Tel Aviv
    (Photo: Motti Kimchi)
    Now, however, many senior medical officials believe the masks provide partial protection from the virus.
    In addition, the officials say many of the infected do not show any symptoms and are not aware they are carrying the virus. Making the masks mandatory, therefor, minimizes the possibility that an unaware COVID-19 carrier would cough or sneeze into the air.
    Furthermore, Asian countries with relatively low fatality rates - from both COVID-19 and previous coronavirus epidemics - attributed a great share of their success in preventing further infections to the masks.
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