Medical experts have urged people to stop panic buying face masks, warning that such equipment is not an effective way to protect yourself from the fast-spreading coronavirus.
The advice comes at a time of intensifying concern about COVID-19, which has killed more than 3,000 people worldwide since late last year.
The outbreak was first identified in Hubei province, China, where over 90% of the deaths have been reported. More recently, the virus has been spreading at a faster rate outside China than inside the country.
But wearing a mask is not the perfect solution for this Virus.
Don’t touch your face Only Wear a Mask when you’re Sick
First of all, most people buying masks are not getting one that stops the virus from reaching their mouth or nose anyway. The coronavirus is transmitted through droplets, not through the air. That means you cannot randomly breathe it in, but it also means the standard surgical mask you see people wearing will not help. Those masks are designed to keep droplets in—not to keep them out—and are intended to keep the wearer from getting others sick.
Don’t touch your face
South Korea, Italy and Iran have all recorded sharp upticks in cases of the coronavirus in recent days, with many other countries imposing travel restrictions on virus-hit areas worldwide.
Infections have now been reported in every continent except Antarctica.
Emily Landon, medical director for infection control at the University of Chicago Medical Center, told CNBC late last week that face masks were “not a great choice” for everyday use.
She advised to stop touching face very often as people do it by habit.
So, How to Protect Yourself from COVID-19
You’ve heard it over and over, already, but the best way to protect yourself from the coronavirus really, truly, honestly is to regularly wash your hands with soap and water. Karen Fleming, Ph.D. a professor in biophysics at Johns Hopkins University, explained on Twitter why: “Coronavirus is an ‘enveloped’ virus, which means that it has an outer lipid membrane layer,” an outer layer of fat. “Washing your hands with soap and water has the ability to ‘dissolve’ this greasy fatty layer and kill the virus,” she said.
Wash your hands before and after eating and try to train yourself not to touch your face, “especially your mouth and nose,” Dr. Perencevich said. Also, carry around hand sanitizer in case you can’t get to soap and water after touching your face or another germ-laden surface (like doorknobs).