Mandatory face masks for primary school children ‘not a good idea’

Mandatory face masks for primary school children ‘not a good idea’
Credit: Pikist

Belgium will not make wearing a face mask mandatory for children younger than 12 years old, as health officials stated that they think it is “not a good idea,” during a press conference on Friday.

Spain introduced a face mask obligation for children from 6 years old on Thursday, but virologist and interfederal Covid-19 spokesperson Steven Van Gucht mentioned two reasons why Belgium will not do the same.

“The first is quite obvious: young children are usually not able to use such a mask correctly,” he explained, adding that if a mask is used incorrectly, the risk of getting infected even increases, instead of diminishes.

“We do not think it is a good idea to impose [masks] on primary school children,” Van Gucht said.

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Secondly, the virus is assumed to be less contagious in young children, as they are not as likely to pass it on to each other or to adults. “It is still possible, of course, it is not a black-and-white story, but everything indicates that it is passed less easily,” he added.

Older children, such as secondary school pupils can be taught to wear a mask “in a more consistent and correct way,” according to Van Gucht, meaning that for them, the infection risk would be reduced.

Additionally, as children get older, they also become more infectious, and the virus starts behaving more and more the way it does in an adult.

From 1 September, when schools reopen, all children aged 12 and up will be required to wear a mask in class.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times

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