Baek Kyung-ran, head of the Central Defense Countermeasures Headquarters (Bangdaebon) (Director of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), suggested today (7th) the time to adjust the obligation to wear an indoor mask as January next year at the earliest or March at the latest.

This is an explanation of the schedule for easing mandatory measures, assuming that the criteria for the epidemic situation are met.

Director Baek explained that even if quarantine measures related to the obligation to wear indoor masks are eased, they may remain mandatory in facilities for the protection of high-risk groups.

Headquarters Baek said at a briefing today at Bang Dae-bon, "We are reviewing a policy to adjust the administrative order and fines to comply with the quarantine guidelines for wearing masks and gradually implement mask wearing recommendations and voluntary wearing."

"Criteria, targets, methods, etc. are currently being discussed by an expert group," he said.

Headquarters Baek, however, said, “Even if the mandatory mask-wearing measures are converted to recommendations in most indoor settings, essential facilities for the protection of high-risk groups may still remain mandatory.” that,” he added.

Director Baek said, "The reason for not deciding on the timing of implementation is that the current epidemic has not reached a downward trend, that a little more time is needed for bivalent vaccination of the elderly, and that the direction of the spread of infectious diseases such as influenza is unclear." The central disaster and safety countermeasure headquarters (Critical Script) meeting and public discussion will be held on the 15th to collect expert opinions and finalize the adjustment plan after review by the advisory committee.”

Headquarters Baek emphasized, however, that "the effect of wearing a mask to prevent infection is clear without controversy" and "many studies conducted before and after the COVID-19 epidemic scientifically prove the effectiveness and necessity of wearing a mask."

Director Baek also introduced the research results that were recently introduced in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).

As a result of comparing the incidence of COVID-19 according to whether or not wearing a mask among 294,084 students and 46,530 faculty and staff in Massachusetts, USA for 15 weeks from February to June, the incidence rate in school districts wearing masks was 1,000 per 1,000. At 66.1, it was less than half of the 134.4 school districts who lifted their mandatory wearing.

Director Baek said, “Wearing a mask is the most basic measure to prevent the spread and reduce the burden on the medical system. "he said.

Headquarters Baek said, "Today's central script fully explained (to local governments) the effect of wearing an indoor mask, and we also requested cooperation so that a single quarantine network can be operated through the central script." It is not a situation where the local government is taking specific measures, so it is not a situation where there will be something to withdraw (the cancellation policy).”

(Photo = Yonhap News)