Coronavirus (21) Use of masks (2)

31 March, 2020

The WHO and others have been consistent in their recommendations on mask use by the public including their reinforcement of that message today. This new recommendation by Dr Gao and others in Asia is opinion since the biggest issue with the "data" we get from those areas really has no denominator and except for South Korea, has no transparency. Having said that, WHO's recommendation is based on hospital data from the 90's from other droplet transmitted viruses in hospital settings. Gowns and masks added little to gloves and hand washing in transmission studies in hospital settings. The rationale in the general population is also based on observations of people touching their faces more when wearing masks. Handwashing is still key. Masks may have a role in public transportation settings especially in urban settings like Lusaka where social distancing cannot happen.

We are involved locally in the US with facemask sewing groups. There are quite active and vibrant groups. The masks are being used in less acute settings or are being used to extend the use of N95 masks and also being used for first responders and those in shops. This could easily be done in Zambia.

HIFA-Zambia profile: Craig Wilson is Professor and Director at University of Alabama at Birmingham/Sparkman Center for Global Health, USA. Professional interests- Pediatrician and HIV clinician by training; experience in rural and urban clinics in Zambia since 2004. Worked with Zambian MOH/GNC on development and now delivery of an HIV Nurse Practitioner program; Now focused on medical education capacity building for all health care worker programs, mainly at UNZA but also with LSN, Chainama, CBU SOM, LAMU and Cavendish; Working on further development and dissemination of eGranary platform within health care worker training programs and in collaboration with VVOB education training programs; Co-Director for Medical Education Partnership Initiative (MEPI) at UNZA and also new CDC ZEPACT project (HIV NP and HIV resistance surveillance). cwilson AT