The World Health Organization on Friday changed its guidelines about the use of protective face masks in public, saying that they must be worn at all places where physical distancing is not possible. The global health body had said in April that there was not enough evidence to show that healthy people should wear masks to shield themselves from the coronavirus.

WHO said that new information showed that protective masks could be a barrier for potentially infectious droplets. The coronavirus primarily spreads through the transmission of respiratory droplets from infected people.

At a press conference on Friday, WHO Director General Tedros Ghebreyesus said that new evidence shows the need to make protective masks compulsory. “In the light of evolving evidence, the World Health Organization advises governments to encourage the general public to wear masks where there is widespread Covid-19 transmission and physical distancing is difficult, such as on public transport, in shops or in other confined or crowded environments,” he said.

WHO also said that high-risk groups should wear medical grade masks in cases where physical distancing is not possible.

Several countries, including India, have made wearing masks in public compulsory. In many states, people have been fined for not wearing masks. Maintaining hygiene and using protective equipment has become even more important ahead of the reopening of religious places, malls and restaurants in India from next week.

Globally, the coronavirus has infected more than 66.64 lakh people and claimed over 3.91 lakh lives so far, according to the Johns Hopkins University. As many as 28.92 lakh people have recovered.

India’s coronavirus cases increased by 9,887 on Saturday, in the highest single-day increase so far. The country’s tally rose to 2,36,657 and the toll stood at 6,642. India is now the sixth worst-affected country by the pandemic and has overtaken Italy, according to Johns Hopkins University.