The World Health Organization and UNICEF have issued a new set of guidelines about wearing masks for children who are 5 years old and below. The two United Nations agencies have said that toddlers are not very susceptible to COVID 19 virus. They do not transmit the infection to others effectively. In a joint statement, both the agencies have said that young children should not be forced to wear masks. As per the available data, kids up to 5 years are at lower risk of infection as compared to adults. However, it may differ among children from different age groups. The new guideline is based on expert opinion collected through online summits and consultative processes.
On the other hand, new instructions from the WHO and UNICEF, contradict the guidelines issued by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). CDC suggests that children aged 2 years and above should wear a mask. Moreover, there are some studies, which suggest that teenagers play a more significant role in transmitting the virus than small kids. The World Health Organization has said that in the case of children between 6 to 11 years of age, we should adhere to a risk-based approach. The local intensity of transmission, social and cultural environment availability of adult supervision and potential impact of the mask on psychological development and growth are some points, we need to observe closely. UNICEF and WHO have stressed that no child should be deprived of education if a mask is unavailable. Both the agencies have clearly stated that mask use among children above 12 years should follow the national guidelines for mask use in adults.
The United Nation agencies have firmly told that it should not be mandatory to wear a mask for children of any age with development disorders, disabilities, or other specific health issues. The mandate to wear a mask should be reviewed on a case-to-case basis by a child’s educator or a health professional. As per the authorities, wearing a mask is not the only precaution children need to follow rather they should also practice physical distancing and hand hygiene. However, here are face shields available in the market but they are not as efficient as masks.