WHO Chief: Masks alone will not protect against coronavirus

In its new guidance, prompted by evidence from studies conducted in recent weeks, the WHO stressed that face masks were only one of a range of tools that can reduce the risk of viral transmission, and should not give a false sense of protection.

But the WHO's director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned "masks on their own will not protect you from COVID-19.''

While some countries and U.S. states have recommended or mandated the wearing of face coverings in public, the WHO had previously said there was not enough evidence for or against the use of masks for healthy people in the wider community.

It had always recommended that medical masks be worn by people who are sick and by those caring for them.