Hold it! Belgian govt warns against using its own free masks

Health

BRUSSELS (AP) — Ten months after promising free cloth facemasks to protect all Belgians from COVID-19, the country’s government is having second thoughts — warning they could be dangerous and shouldn’t be used.

Belgian authorities said the masks contain miniscule traces of silver and a chemical compound that initial studies now show could affect the respiratory system when inhaled deeply. More studies are continuing.

Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke told parliament on Thursday that “to be on the safe side while the studies continue, it is better to put (the masks) to the side.”

In all, the government ordered 18 million masks. Authorities started handing them out for free last year, but have not yet completed the distribution.

Ever since the virus hit Belgium last spring, the nation of 11.5 million has been beset with problems. For the first half year, it was a minority government with limited powers which had to deal with the pandemic.

The country has one of the highest per capita death rates in the world, and has registered a total 22,000 COVID-19 fatalities.

___

Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

CBS47 On Your Side

Do you have a problem that you need help solving? Contact CBS47 and let us be On Your Side.

Phone: 559-761-0383
Email: OnYourSide@cbsfresno.com