Coronavirus Masks Can't Protect You As Well As You Think
Dhir Acharya - Feb 11, 2020
In countries where the coronavirus has spread, people are wearing masks as a way to prevent the virus from transmitting from one to another.
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Coronavirus is spreading quickly in China and around the world. We need to do many things to protect ourselves from getting infected, for example, keeping ourselves, home and workplace clean. However, there are also unnecessary things we are doing like wearing masks.
The fact is that surgical masks can help limit ill people from spreading their coronavirus to others, but it cannot protect uninfected people from getting the coronavirus from the world outside. Respirator masks can help a little but it is a bit too much to use outside a high-risk area or a hospital.
A large number of masks in the world are produced in China. As the country is struggling with a serious pandemic, China will not export masks as well as other personal protective equipment.
WHO's director-general said that the demand for masks is 100 times as high as usual and the price is 20 times higher than usual. While we need those masks for use in an epidemic situation, a large part of them is, in fact, being widely used inappropriately for personal protection from the coronavirus.
The WHO is trying to support places that need personal protective equipment but it is not easy now for the lack of equipment all over the world. This can heavily affect the ability to take care of infected people and prevent the virus from spreading.
What you can and should do
Don’t worry too much and buy masks you that don’t really need because it can cause difficulty for doctors and people who really need them. Don’t buy masks just because you are worried about the virus or that stockpiles can be gone soon.
In fact, India has confirmed three infection cases, which is a very small portion of the population and you are much more likely to catch the flu or a cold rather than the coronavirus. Right now, do what is really necessary and useful to protect yourself and help medical staff handle the disease better.
If wearing masks makes you feel safer, you can use cloth masks instead. You can even make one yourself. Cloth masks are not as effective as surgical or respirators masks but they can still partly protect you from the coronavirus. Remember to wash them daily with hot water.