As millions of children head back to school, the World Health Organization has issued its recommendation on whether they need to wear face masks.
The WHO and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have broken their new guidelines into age groups, and they say children younger than 6 should not wear them.
“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.
Children 6 to 11 should wear masks, but what the experts call a “risk-based control” should be considered. This includes social and cultural environments, the child’s ability to comply, and the impact mask wearing has on disabilities or underlying diseases.
Kids 12 and older need to be treated like adults when wearing masks.
But the WHO and UNICEF said no child should be denied access to an education if a mask is unavailable.
“Very few, if any, children or teenagers will come to long-term harm from COVID-19 due solely to attending school,’’ British medical officials have said. “This has to be set against a certainty of long-term harm to many children and young people from not attending school.’’
While children who are infected with COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, generally have mild or asymptomatic symptoms, they can still spread the virus to adults.
Scientists at the University of Hong Kong said they have found the first known case of someone who was infected twice with COVID-19.
The popular belief is that catching the coronavirus once makes people immune to a second case.
But the doctors say genetic tests on a 33-year-old male COVID-19 patient found that the strain he had after returning from a trip to Spain several weeks ago is different than the coronavirus strain he had in March.
“It shows that some people do not have lifelong immunity” to the virus if they’ve already had it, microbiologist Dr. Kelvin Kai-Wang To said. “We don’t know how many people can get reinfected. There are probably more out there.”
“COVID patients should not be complacent about prevention measures,” To said, stressing that everyone needs to continue social distancing and wearing masks.
But other experts said the silver lining is that the Hong Kong patient had mild symptoms in March and was asymptomatic the second time around. The virus was confirmed during a screening on his return home.
Doctors said this could mean that the initial infection could protect the patient from a more moderate or severe second case.
Meanwhile, Gaza reported its first cases of COVID-19 that didn’t come from the outside.
A government spokesman said four cases from a single family living in a refugee camp were confirmed Monday and security forces have locked down the entire territory for at least two days.
Until Monday, all the coronavirus cases found in Gaza were in quarantine centers.
Gaza is the Palestinian territory government by Hamas, which Israel considers a terrorist group. Israeli and Egyptian blockades make it tough for people to move in and out of the territory.
A WHO official said Monday the coronavirus cases in Gaza, along with the poverty and overcrowding, is a huge challenge and a “matter of concern.”