Face mask compulsory for Austrian shoppers to wear in supermarkets, says government

Face mask compulsory for Austrian shoppers to wear in supermarkets, says government

With the rapidly evolving situation of COVID-19, it is now compulsory for shoppers in Austria to wear a basic face mask in supermarkets to curb the transmission of COVID-19 as urged by Austria government.

Austria’s Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said on Monday (30 March) that the masks will be handed out in front of supermarkets and it is compulsory for shoppers to wear them in supermarkets at the moment, according to Reuters.

Mr Kurz also urged the people to wear the masks in public more, generally in alignment with the country’s medium-term aim to tackle COVID-19 pandemic.

With the current infections being far too high in the country, said Mr Kurz, the so-called below-medical grade MNS masks will be distributed with the aim of preventing the wearer from spreading virus to others by coughing or sneezing.

Currently, Austria has recorded more than 9,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases with 108 deaths.

Meanwhile, Czech government also enforced a compulsory face mask policy in public areas which means the people either need to wear a surgical face mask or other mouth and nose-covering apparel when in public, as reported in Euronews.

Czechs who are found not wearing the correct equipment in public may be imposed an on-the-spot fine of CZK 10,000 (S$574) by police officers.

Though some European countries have mandated the usage of masks for all, it was earlier reported that the health authorities in other countries including Italy, Iran, France, Spain, Germany, and the United States—which recorded the highest infection rates of COVID-19 globally—recommend that only sick people use masks based on a review by Inkstone.

It appears that those countries, including Singapore, have adopted the recommendation by the World Health Organization (WHO) which encourage the public to wear a mask only if feeling unwell or taking care of a suspected COVID-19 patients.

On top of this, WHO also highlighted that masks will be useful only if you clean your hands frequently with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.

WHO’s recommendation on using masks contradict the advice of medical experts and researchers

As such, there are also contradicting advice on using masks to curb the spread of coronavirus between World Health Organization (WHO) and the medical experts.

Given that the spread of COVID-19 has slowed down in the country, two medical experts in China and South Korea stressed the importance and effectiveness of face mask usage during the pandemic in an earlier report.

According to the Director-General of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) George Gao, wearing face masks can prevent droplets which may carry the virus from escaping from the mouth and infecting others.

“This virus is transmitted by droplets and close contact. Droplets play a very important role—you’ve got to wear a mask, because when you speak, there are always droplets coming out of your mouth,” said Mr Gao.

A professor of infectious diseases at the Korea University Guro Hospital and South Korea’s most prominent coronavirus expert Kim Woo-joo also said that wearing masks to prevent infection of COVID-19 is “definitely effective” and he found it quite “odd” that not many people wear masks in the West.

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