Health Ministry asks all Israelis to wear masks, America may follow suit

Ministry of Health tells Israelis to wear masks out of the house to fight coronavirus spread. CDC appears on verge of same message for America.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

Israel’s health ministry advised all Israelis Tuesday to wear protective masks when leaving their homes as a tool in fighting the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, Ynet reported.

Health Ministry Director General Moshe Bar Siman Tov cited the conclusion of the World Health Organization that the virus is transmitted “through droplets generated when an infected person coughs, sneezes or speaks.”

“Several countries, including us, decided to recommend that the public wear protective masks when leaving the house,” Bar Siman Tov said, adding the ministry would soon release guidelines on what masks to use and how to use them.

Bar Siman Tov said there was no need to rush out and buy masks. “You can improvise at home. You can cover your face with a piece of cloth, for example. We will guide you.”

The health ministry reported that a shipment of 8 million surgical masks arrived in the country Tuesday as a task force that includes the IDF, the Mossad spy agency and the prime minister’s office sourced suppliers from around the world to restock dwindling medical supplies.

In the United States officials at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta are “considering altering the official guidance to encourage people to take measures to cover their faces amid the coronavirus pandemic,” the Washington Post reported.

Because medical-grade masks, especially those that meet the N95 standard, are running out and the first priority is for health care workers, the new recommendation being considered is similar to what Bar Siman Tov recommended, homemade cloth coverings that an officials said would help “flatten the curve” of growing corona infections, the Post reported.

At a press conference Monday WHO officials reiterated their finding that coronavirus is passed on by droplets and is not an airborne transmission. WHO considers that “masks are commonly misused, and as a result, won’t offer the intended protections.”

“Mask wearing by the general public is not among the WHO’s recommendations. We don’t generally recommend the wearing of masks in public by otherwise well individuals because it has not up to now been associated with any particular benefit,” said Michael Ryan, Executive Director of the WHO Health Emergencies Program.

However, WHO’s handling and policies to deal with the coronavirus crisis have been harshly criticized. A CNN op-ed in February slammed WHO for “mixing health and politics,” noting WHO director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus initially praised China for its “transparency” in fighting the epidemic, although it was later revealed that China had suppressed information.

The UN agency was also criticized for “failing to communicate an early warning about transmission of the coronavirus between humans, slowing the global response to the pandemic,” the Financial Times reported.