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Are Two Face Masks Better Than One? It Depends, Says WHO

Where do you draw the line?
Feb 1, 2021
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One mask is enough to guard against COVID-19, as long as it's medical grade, the World Health Organization said Monday, as some people begin wearing double masks with new virus variants being discovered.

In the Philippines, masks need to be certified by the Food and Drug Administration to qualify for medical use. On top of masks, the government also requires face shields at all times when out in public.

Double-masks took the spotlight at U.S. as everyone from President Joe Biden to Vice President Kamala Harris to inauguration poet Amanda Gorman were seen wearing two masks.

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"It depends on what kind of masks you are wearing, medical or surgical masks, we don't think there is a necessity for two masks," said WHO country representative to the Philippines Rabindra Abeyasinghe.

"What is more important is you wear the mask appropriately, you handle it approrpiately and not be touchig it all the time and follow hand hygiene," he told ANC.

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In his weekly address to the nation on Jan. 25, President Rodrigo Duterte reminded the public to weak masks properly, with their noses covered.

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Abeyasinghe also allayed fears over new variants of SARS-CoV-2 that cases COVID-19, which had forced large parts of Europe into fresh lockdowns.

"All viruses change over time. It's only logical that the SARS-CoV virus also changes. It's not surprising that we see the emergence of new variants," he said. What's important is for the world to understand whether new variants are more contagious or more dangerous, he said.

Data on the new variants from the UK and South Africa, which are thought to be more easily transmissible, are "premature and needs to be very carefully evaluated," he said.

The Philippines can draw up to 44 million vaccines from COVAX, a vaccine equity alliance that includes the WHO, he said. An initial five to nine million doses could be rolled out by the end of February at the earliest, he said.

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