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Covid-19: Should we be masking 2-year-olds?


Experts have welcomed the Government's tighten-up around masking, but argue the new measures don't go far enough – with some suggesting masks be provided to children as young as 2 under the red setting.

Under just-announced changes to mask requirements, from February 3, masks must be worn at businesses which serve food and drink – and that diners will be asked to wear them when leaving their tables.

Further, bandanas or T-shirts pulled up over the mouth wouldn't be accepted, while children on publicly funded school trips would also be required to wear them.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern encouraged workplaces which were not customer-facing to decide on how to best implement a practical mask use policy.

It would be cumbersome to assign people to assess if scarves or makeshift face coverings were properly fitted, she said.

"We are asking for something that connects over your face."

But the Government stopped short of recommending the use of N95s for the general public – as several experts have called for – partly due to the expense.

University of Auckland aerosol chemist Dr Joel Rindelaub described the new mask requirements as "a good start".

"We know that Omicron is highly transmissible and does transmit via aerosols that hang in the air - and the best way to prevent yourself from breathing them in is to wear a covering over your nose and mouth," he said.

"The best way you can do that is with N95 and P2 masks."

Here, Rindelaub said there was much room for improvement – especially environments in schools, where outbreaks regularly occurred.

"Providing teachers, for instance, with the highest-quality masks would be a good way to help reduce community transmission."


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