The deadly 2019-nCoV coronavirus
in China has many reaching for face masks
across the world. But while mandatory in Wuhan, China, where the virus originated, a face mask
is of little use, practically speaking, some medical experts say.
(PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS ARTICLE HAS BEEN UPDATED, NEW STUDIES HAVE SHOWN THAT WEARING EVEN ORDINARY NON-N95 MASK DOES HELP TO PREVENT THE SPREAD OF COVID-19. PLEASE REFER TO UPDATES AT END OF ARTICLE)
Furthermore, most mask are not protective against viruses unless they have the N95 certifications. Many cloth mask are hopeless against viruses as the virus can still pass through plus they in fact help promote the spread of the virus through contamination. Disposable N95 mask are the best given the situation but again might not be totally 100 per cent protective.
Dr. William Schaffner, a Professor of Preventive Medicine at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, US, told Thailand Medical
News, "A surgical mask
might provide some protection, but it's going to be very modest."
To date, there are no definitive studies exist that prove masks prevent infections. Also, masks
are designed for different purposes, and only some guard against infectious diseases.
Choosing the right type of mask
may be key, said one researcher.
Dr. Raina MacIntyre, head of biosecurity research at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia commented, "Several studies, including research from my group, show that if worn properly, masks
can protect people in the community from respiratory illness, especially those in close contact with sick people.
Dr MacIntyre's group did a study where parents of a sick child wore a mask
at home. Those who wore the mask
at all times were protected, she said. "When infection is widespread, it may be useful," she noted.
However, she said that many images from China showing people wearing face masks
that aren't likely to help.
She added, "I recommend disposable masks
. The cloth masks
used commonly in China may not be protective. We did a trial of these, compared to disposable masks
, and wearers had a higher risk of infection. This may be because the cloth masks
are not washed regularly and may retain moisture and become contaminated."
has spread to more than 20 countries, with six confirmed cases in the United States. In China, nearly 9,000 have been infected, with 213 de
Dr Schaffner noted that this coronavirus
spreads the way flu does, yet the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doesn't recommend face masks
as a way to avoid flu.
He added, "The reason is that CDC requires scientific evidence to show that any intervention they recommend is likely to have value. It turns out that evidence for using masks
in the community is scanty at best."
have different uses. Schaffner said a flimsy painter's mask
prevents paint from getting in your mouth or nose, but won't stop a virus.
As far as surgical masks
are concerned, these are designed to keep fluids or germs from the doctor from contaminating the sterile field in the operating room. But viruses can still pass through it to the wearer, Dr Schaffner said.
When physicians are treating patients who have a communicable disease, they wear a type of mask
called an N95 respirator
. Because this mask
is sealed around the mouth and nose, it will block a virus. But using it requires special training, and it makes breathing harder and is uncomfortable to wear, Dr Schaffner said.
The best a person can do to guard against the coronavirus
according to Dr Schaffner is to adopt as to what one would do to protect oneself from the flu, namely, avoid being around people who are sick, and wash your hands often.
Porfessor Dr. Amesh Adalja, a spokesman for the Infectious Disease Society of America, said surgical masks and respirators offer protection in the health care setting and do offer some protection to the general public.
Dr Adalja, a senior scholar at Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security further added, "However, most people in the general public don't wear them properly. They stick their hands under them."
Dr Adalja added that the risk to the United States right now from this coronavirus
is very small. "Buying these mask
s could have unintended consequences, including shortages, demand spikes and price increases. It's not really necessary to wear a mask to protect yourself.”
For those that are healthy, surgical masks actually offer no protection unlike the N95 respirators
which can help. But surgical mask might be useful for those infected to stop passing the viruses to others as it stops respiratory droplets.
One medical doctor from John Hopkins commented that was hilarious to see so called health officials in Asia handling mask that that were not made to withstand viruses and did not have the necessary N95 certifications to clueless people all around.
UPDATES: New studies have emerged that shows although ordinary face mask are not as efficient as N95 Respirator Mask, they still help to prevent the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirsu by those that are infected by the virus especially asymptomatic individuals and also they do offer a degree of protection againt those wearing them from contracting the virus easily. There are numerous new studies that have emerged to show this. PLEASE WEAR A MASK WHENEVER POSSIBLE! It helsp saves lives.