Authorities mull masks for 2-year-olds – media

Officials in Japan are reportedly hoping to contain the spread of Omicron with the new measure

A special panel within the Japanese government is considering rolling out new guidelines which, among other things, would recommend that children aged two and over should wear face masks “when possible,” according to the Kyodo news agency. 

If adopted, the measure would, first and foremost, apply to daycare and after-school facilities for elementary school students.

The draft recommendations cited by the journalists leave room for exceptions, however, clarifying that “there is no need” to insist on children wearing masks “when they are feeling ill or have difficulties wearing them continuously.” Children under two would remain exempt, with officials citing suffocation and heat stroke as possible risks. 

Takaji Wakita, the head of the National Institute of Infectious Diseases, stressed the importance of reducing infection transmissions among the very young and the elderly. He warned that while the “number of novel coronavirus cases is starting to decline among young generations,” the situation still will not improve “unless we see a downtrend among children and elderly people.

The news comes at a time when the highly contagious Omicron strain is gaining momentum in Japan. On Thursday, the country for the first time chalked up more than 100,000 daily infections.

For the time being, multiple day care centers in Japan have had to temporarily shut their doors due to the rapid spread of the virus.

Mask mandates for school children are in place in a number of countries; however, they mostly affect older age groups. 

Moreover, the mandatory wearing of face masks in schools has proven a highly divisive issue, with some parents vehemently opposed to the measure.

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