DURBAN – As millions of pupils in South Africa return to school today, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF say children aged 12 and over should wear masks just like adults.
The latest recommendations on whether children should wear masks have been a point of confusion for parents amid the coronavirus pandemic since most kids get mild symptoms.
“We advise that children aged 12 and over should wear a mask under the same conditions as adults, in particular when they cannot guarantee at least a 1-metre distance from others and there is widespread transmission in the area,” the WHO and UNICEF said in a document on the WHO website published on Friday.
The document also recommended that children suffering from cancer and cystic fibrosis should wear medical masks to provide better protection. It also said that it is not mandatory for children with developmental difficulties to wear masks and such cases should be assessed by the parents, caregivers and medical workers.
Meanwhile, Teachers’ unions have expressed concern about the state of readiness for most schools.
“The delivery of face masks was still a challenge in a number of provinces, with those that had been delivered being ‘inadequate and of poor quality’. Poor quality masks mean death and this must be corrected,” said Mungwena Maluleke, the general secretary of South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu).
Briefing the media on Sunday, KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala said: “All PPEs and other essentials have been procured and delivered to all schools. There are only three districts that reported that they will complete their delivery either today or tomorrow morning.”
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