Face masks will remain on transport for a while for the moment. | Majorca Daily Bulletin reporter

The regional director for Europe of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Hans Henri P. Kluge, has recommended that European citizens, in view of the wave of coronavirus infections in China, continue to wear face masks indoors and on public transport.

In the Balearics face masks must still be worn on public transport, in taxis, medical centres, chemists and domestic flights but there are concerns that they may be reintroduced indoors.

Kluge stressed that the SARS-CoV-2 variants circulating in China are those already seen in Europe and elsewhere. “We share the current view of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control that the ongoing increase in China is not expected to significantly affect the epidemiological situation of COVID-19 in the WHO European Region at this time,” he said.

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However, the European WHO official stressed that although China has shared information on virus sequencing, “detailed and regular” information is needed, especially on epidemiology and local variants, in order to better determine the evolution of the situation.

Kluge said it was “not unreasonable” for countries to take precautionary measures to protect their populations while awaiting more detailed information on the situation in China. However, he called for any initiatives to be “proportionate and non-discriminatory”.

Recent data from some of these countries are beginning to indicate the growing presence of the new recombinant XBB.1.5 virus that has already been spreading “rapidly” in the United States.