Face shields didn't protect people from a coronavirus outbreak in Switzerland, but masks did
- There was an outbreak of "several" coronavirus cases at a hotel among staff and guests in Switzerland.
- Health officials found that only people who wore plastic face shields were infected. Those who wore a mask, or a combination, were not.
- The WHO and other authorities have advised that face shields can offer an added layer of protection, but in additional to a mask, social distancing, and handwashing, not as a substitute.
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A health department in Switzerland is now warning against wearing plastic face shields without a mask after a recent outbreak in which those wearing only shields were infected with coronavirus, while people wearing masks were fine.
The infections were reported at a hotel in the Graübunden region, where several employees and at least one guest tested positive for the virus. Local health officials determined that all those infected had been wearing only plastic face shields as protection. No one who had worn a face mask was infected, according to officials.
Local health officials told the Swiss news outlet 20 Minutes that the face shields could create a false sense of security, leading wearers to take unnecessary risks or lapse in other precautions.
"The visors do not serve as an alternative to hygiene masks. Visors can be worn with masks to further enhance your own protection," Yann Hulmann, spokesman for the Federal Office of Public Health, told 20 Minutes.
Previously, the WHO has stated that face shields can help prevent the virus, but only in combination with other safety measures such as wearing a mask, social distancing, and frequent hand-washing - no single preventative measure is enough to fully protect against the virus alone.
Some have suggested that face shields could provide advantages, such as being easier to sanitize than a mask, covering the entire face, and being able to express yourself through it. However, more research is needed to determine the effectiveness of a shield against the virus, including when compared to masks and other forms of protection.
And people who have symptoms of the coronavirus should still isolate away from other people until their symptoms clear up, waiting at least 10 days since they first began to feel ill, according to the CDC.
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