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Tsiodras: New COVID-19 Data Recommends Facial Covering; Children Less Susceptible to Disease

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Health Ministry spokesperson and infectious diseases expert, Professor Sotiris Tsiodras. (Photo by Eurokinissi/ Michalis Karagiannis)

ATHENS - The obligatory use of facial masks or covers once restrictions are gradually rolled back as of May 4 follows the most recent data on the Covid-19 pandemic, the Health Ministry's novel coronavirus spokesman Sotiris Tsiodras said on Wednesday.

During the daily briefing, Tsiodras defended the introduction of facial covering in closed spaces and mass transportation, compared to the start of the epidemic in Greece, when masks for the public were not recommended.

He said that "now conditions are new and the use of a mask is for the purposes of not transmitting the virus, not to avoid contracting it."

The infectious diseases professor was categorically against the use of medical masks (i.e. with valves) by the public valve, warning that they could create more infection problems. "You can make a mask at home from cloth material," he said, highlighting however their proper care and use.

Directions and recommendations will be posted online shortly by the National Public Health Organization (EODY), he stressed.

Speaking of the rapidly changing data on the new coronavirus and its different behavior compared to known viruses, Tsiodras said that Covid-19 has forced medical and health authorities be "in a dance of uncertainty, following common sense."

A great part of his briefing was spent assuaging the fears of parents of young children over the return to society and possibly the educational system. Citing European Center for Disease Prevention and Control data on SARS and MERS, which belong to the coronavirus family, he noted the following, concerning children: Children contract the disease at much lower frequency than adults; their symptoms are fewer and milder; the percentage of children to the total population that have contracted the disease is less than 1 pct (Chinese data); the greatest source of contracting the disease is the family of the child; and they are multiple times less likely to contract the virus from people aged 20 and above, and even less so by people 60 years or above.

"It is impossible for children to be at the forefront of disease dispersal," Tsiodras asserted, adding the necessity of having children return to normalcy and to daily life in society.