The World Health Organization (WHO) has changed its position on wearing face masks in the corona crisis. To contain infections, it is now recommended to use them in crowded public facilities, the WHO said in Geneva on Friday. At the same time, however, the UN organization warned that masks could even increase the risk of illness if people touched them with dirty hands and contaminated them. WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: "Masks can also give a false sense of security."

So far, the WHO's stance was that a mouthguard only made sense for the sick and people who care for the sick. Mass use has not been recommended.

Tedros said masks could not replace hand hygiene, keeping a distance and tracking down patients and their social contacts. Masks alone could not protect against Covid-19. Governments should encourage mask wear where virus transmission is widespread and where it is difficult to keep a distance from other people, such as in public transportation, shops, or in narrow or crowded areas.

The WHO also found that sewing masks enables people to do something about the virus while providing a potential source of income. In order for everyday masks to bring something, they have to cover the nose and mouth up to the chin and fit as closely as possible around the edges.

In Germany, too, the discussion about the question of masks had changed. At the beginning of the pandemic, the Robert Koch Institute recommended masks only for medical personnel who had direct contact with infected people. Behind this recommendation, too, was the fear that a general mask requirement would lead to a feeling of deceptive security among the population. Since the end of April, however, simple mouth-nose protection has become mandatory in supermarkets or public transport, for example.