WHO: Wear masks during Christmas family gatherings

Copenhagen, Dec 16 (efe-epa).- The World Health Organization’s Europe office on Wednesday recommended that people wear protective face masks when visiting family over the Christmas holiday period and warned of the risk of a third wave of Covid-19 in early 2021.

“Winter holidays are a time for family, community and renewal. This year more than ever, across the WHO European Region, people are anxious to gather together and reflect on what has been both an extraordinary and difficult 2020,” the organization said in a statement.

“Despite some fragile progress, Covid-19 transmission across the European Region remains widespread and intense. There is a high risk of further resurgence in the first weeks and months of 2021, and we will need to work together if we are to succeed in preventing it,” it added.

The WHO said that indoor gatherings presented a particular risk for transmission as they bring people from different households and different age groups together, regardless of whether participants have been adhering to the same rules.

“Gatherings should be held outside if possible, and participants should wear masks and maintain physical distancing. If held indoors, limiting group size and ensuring good ventilation to reduce exposure risk are key.

“It may feel awkward to wear masks and practise physical distancing when around friends and family, but doing so contributes significantly to ensuring that everyone remains safe and healthy.”

The health body also urged nations to “seriously” consider postponing or reducing outdoor festivities like Christmas markets and processions.

Religious services should be held outdoors where possible, or be limited in size and well ventilated, the WHO said.

The warnings come as governments across Europe enforce tough measures over the winter break to ward off a potential third wave of Covid-19.

The Netherlands and Germany have both imposed forms of a lockdown, while the United Kingdom’s plan to alleviate tough coronavirus measures has been criticized by medical and health experts. EFE/EPA


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