Time for young students to stop wearing face masks at school, top virologists says
With the number of Covid-19 cases in Thailand falling, it is time for kindergarten and elementary school students to stop wearing face masks at schools, an eminent virologist said on Friday.
Dr Yong Poovorawan – who heads Chulalongkorn University’s Centre of Excellence in Clinical Virology – said removing face masks in classrooms will improve students' ability to learn verbal and non-verbal communication.
Children need to learn how facial expressions convey emotions, he wrote on Facebook, adding that it was difficult for them to wear face masks properly.
Up to 80% of kindergarten and elementary school students in Thailand already have immunity to Covid-19 as a result of vaccination or previous exposure to the virus, and one-third of them never developed symptoms, Yong said, citing data from the Centre of Excellence in Clinical Virology.
"Although these children [remain] at risk of infection, they will not develop severe symptoms," Yong added.
As the number of Covid-19 cases in Thailand declines, the number of children infected with the virus is falling, he said.
“If you consider both the advantages and disadvantages [of face masks], it is time for kindergarten and elementary students to stop wearing them at schools," he said.
Still, Yong still advised that children wear face masks in poorly ventilated places, including on public transport, and in shopping malls and hospitals.