US has reported more than 240,000 COVID-19 cases, the highest in the world, and over 6,000 people have died due to the disease (Photo Credit: Image for representation/Reuters)
New Yorkers have been asked to cover their face when venturing out and are near other people to prevent the spread of the virus as officials warned that some asymptomatic, pre-symptomatic people appear to actually be transmitting this disease which has killed over 1,500 people in the city and 6,000 others in the US.
A total of 1,002,159 COVID-19 cases have been reported across more than 175 countries and territories with 51,485 deaths reported so far, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
The US has reported more than 240,000 COVID-19 cases, the highest in the world, and over 6,000 people have died due to the disease. The death toll from the novel coronavirus reached staggering new levels in the United States on Thursday, as officials reported more than 1,000 deaths from the pandemic in a single day.
In New York City, there were 49,707 COVID-19 cases, 10,590 hospitalisations and 1,562 deaths. Authorities have set up 45 new mobile morgues to handle the growing number of corpses.
"I want to emphasise what I'm about to tell you is very, very important, but it does not in any way change the basic guidance that you've received now over many weeks, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
He said that while social distancing is very important and must be observed no matter what, now we're adding a new important point, we're advising New Yorkers to wear a face covering when you go outside and will be near other people.
He said such a face covering could be a scarf, something made at home, a bandana but it does not need to be a professional surgical mask.
In fact, we don't want you to use the kinds of masks that our first responders need that our health care workers need. Don't use those can't be clearer, leave those alone, leave those to the people who need them the most who are saving lives, he said.
The Mayor said residents can create a face covering with anything they have at home right and that will give protection to others.
"The reason for this guidance is because the studies are showing that some asymptomatic people, some pre-symptomatic people appear to actually be transmitting this disease. We don't have perfect evidence; it doesn't conform with what the initial showed us weeks ago, but it does seem to be more and more evident, he said.
What that means is when you put on that face covering you're protecting everyone else. You're making sure that, you know, you don't inadvertently, if you happen to have this disease and you may not even know it, you don't end up giving it to someone else.
The city's health commissioner Oxiris Barbot said that the shift in advisory to people to wear masks is twofold.
"One is there's scientific evidence that people can transmit infection before they realise they are symptomatic. And then the second one is that we are at a different point in the curve, meaning that with widespread community transmission and the new evidence that people can transmit when they are in their pre-symptomatic phase, makes the extension of our message of, wear a mask if you're sick, a logical step, meaning that don't wait until you're symptomatic."
Now assume you've been exposed and use a face covering to ensure that you don't contribute to the ongoing acceleration of this spread. That along with physical distancing and staying home, a face covering can be an additive measure, Barbot said.