WHO: Kids 5 and under should not be forced to wear masks

Published: Aug. 27, 2020 at 3:22 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The World Health Organization and UNICEF now says children five-years-old and younger should not be forced to wear masks during the coronavirus pandemic.

This comes as the CDC said there’s been an increase in children who need to be hospitalized for the virus.

So, what’s behind that decision?

In a joint statement, both agencies said very young children are less susceptible to the virus and are less likely to spread it to others.

But the Alabama Department of Public Health disagrees.

New guidance from the WHO and UNICEF challenges recommendations from the CDC, which suggests children two years of age and older should wear a mask to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

“And certainly, as children get older, given the level of community transmission that we currently have, it is a very, very reasonable way to reduce the spread of COVID-19,” said Assistant State Health Officer for the Alabama Department of Public Health, Dr. Karen Landers.

She added not only is the CDC in favor of cloth face coverings for kids two and up, but also the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“Information on COVID-19 is on-going. There’s a lot of new information coming out, and if we see that literature indicates a change, then we will change that, but right now, this is what we’re doing in Alabama,” Dr. Landers said.

Dr. Landers also points out that most of the research we hear about COVID-19 is about how it affects adults.

She said there’s still more research to be done with how the virus impacts kids.

“One piece of information we still do not have is regarding asymptomatic COVID-19 in children as well as being aware that much more testing has been done in adults. So, are we underestimating pediatric COVID? And I think that’s why that first of all, we must always be vigilant and be consistent in our preventive measures, but also be continuously looking at the science to guide us in the decisions that we’re making,” Dr. Landers said.

And as we’ve heard time and time again throughout this pandemic, doctors say face coverings should be used in addition to social distancing, good hand hygiene and staying at home when you’re not feeling well.

Copyright 2020 WBRC. All rights reserved.

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