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OMT advises students to wear face mask at big lectures

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The Outbreak Management Team, the team of experts advising the Dutch government on how to tackle the pandemic, advised students and lecturers to wear face masks when attending classes in larger groups. That is, once classes are allowed to take place on campus again. 

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In a letter to the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, the OMT writes that the number of infections is currently astoninshly high. Although fewer people are getting seriously ill from the Omicron variant, the healthcare system is still under great pressure.

Larger groups
That's why the OMT advises people aged 13 or older to extend the use of face masks to places such as busy shopping streets and all publicly accessible indoor spaces. That includes “classes in larger groups” at higher education institutions.

It is not clear why the advice does not apply to classes in smaller groups, exams and libraries. The OMT was not available for further questions.

FFP2 mask
In addition, the OMT advises using only surgical masks – the familiar blue and white single-use masks. “Non-medical” face masks, made of fabric, are not as safe.

Vulnerable people are advised to wear an FFP2 mask in “uncontrolled” situations, for instance “where a lot of people are moving around, where social distancing cannot be enforced, where aerosol formation occurs through singing and shouting, and where there are doubts about the ventilation in an indoor space”.

On January 14, the government will take the OMT advice into account in its decision on whether or not to extend the lockdown in higher education. The OMT will issue more detailed advice on that at a later time.

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