Children who are 5 years and under should not be made to wear masks during the coronavirus pandemic, according the World Health Organization and UNICEF.
Very young children are less susceptible to the virus and are less likely to spread it to others, the two United Nations agencies said in a joint statement.
“According to the limited available evidence, young children may have lower susceptibility to infection compared to adults, however available data suggests that this may vary by age among children,” WHO and UNICEF said.
Additionally, some studies suggest that teens may play a more active role in transmission than younger children, the organizations say. WHO has released new guidance divided by age groups:
“Based on the expert opinion gathered through online meetings and consultative processes, children aged up to five years should not wear masks for source control,” the joint statement says.
For children between 6 and 11 years of age, WHO says a risk-based approach should be applied, taking into consideration local intensity of transmission; social and cultural environments; the child’s capacity to comply; availability of appropriate adult supervision; potential impact of masks on learning and psychosocial development; and additional considerations such as disabilities or underlying diseases.
“Advice on mask use in children and adolescents 12 years or older should follow the WHO guidance for mask use in adults and/or the national mask guidelines for adults,” the agencies said.
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