The National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) has tacitly adapted a mouth masks advice in elderly care, the RIVM confirms after news from

Nieuwsuur.

Initially, employees did not have to wear masks if they had brief contact with a patient, but at the beginning of May the RIVM wrote that this was necessary.

Normally, RIVM always mentions with updates which policy rules have been changed.

However, the adjustment regarding this mouth masks advice was not mentioned on the website at the time for unclear reasons.

A spokesperson reports that it is a human error and it has simply been forgotten.

Nieuwsuur also

reports that important umbrella organizations in elderly care have not been informed.

Because the parties involved were not aware of the change, employees continued to work without using masks.

It is not clear whether healthcare employees became ill after following the earlier RIVM advice, but professor of health law Jaap Siimons tells the

NOS

that any sick employees can hold the institute liable.

This is because guidelines drawn up prescribed mouth masks advice on the basis of safety and not scarcity, as a result of which employees may have misplaced confidence in the government rule, argues Siimons.

Policy was set up in times of scarcity

The first RIVM advice was drawn up at a time when the Netherlands still had a dire shortage of face masks.

The policy was therefore aimed at neutralizing or reducing the greatest contamination risks, so that, with that knowledge in mind, other locations and professional groups received more urgent masks advice.

A medical examination showed that there was "a very small chance" of becoming infected at such times.

Since then, no medical research has been published that changed the opinion of the RIVM.

Nevertheless, from May onwards, the guidelines were tightened and employees in elderly care advised to deviate from the mouth masks advice only in specific situations.