Tso RV, Cowling BJ. Importance of face masks for COVID-19 – a call for effective public education [published online ahead of print, 2020 Jul 2]. Clin Infect Dis. 2020;ciaa593. doi:10.1093/cid/ciaa593

Considerable debates about the general community use of face masks for protection against COVID-19 stemmed out from differing views taken by health authorities. Misconceptions and stigmatization towards the use of face masks may hinder the containment of the COVID-19 pandemic. We address this previous debate by analyzing the advice on the community use of masks across different credible health authorities: countries that promoted the use of masks acknowledged that masks are effective, but also explained the importance of their proper use along with other hygiene measures. In contrast, authorities that recommended against the community use of masks mainly cited shortage of supplies, the argument that the public do not have the adequate skills to wear them, or that wearing masks might reduce compliance with other important behaviors. We suggest promoting effective behavioral changes in personal protective measures by teaching microbiological knowledge instead of just listing out the “dos-and-don’ts”.

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