• With the death toll on the rise, coronavirus has sickened several hundred
  • The public is constantly warned and recommended to wear face masks to protect themselves
  • But experts opine that they really don't help

With the coronavirus death toll rising to more than 80, people have been encouraged to wear surgical masks to prevent the spread of the deadly disease. Many retailers are unable to meet the demands of the masks.

But, do those masks really work?

The public wearing surgical masks has become a defining image of large disease outbreaks. The current coronavirus outbreak isn’t any different. But, these masks don’t really help in stopping a respiratory virus from spreading.

“Surgical masks will not prevent your acquiring diseases. Rather, surgical masks are typically used by surgeons to protect their patients from their mouth-borne germs — but those masks don't work to prevent inhaling diseases,” Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine and infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University, and the medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases told Fox News.

There have been reports pertaining to the use of facial masks in hospital settings to protect healthcare workers. But, the usage is short-termed and is frequently changed and properly disposed of. Whereas in the general population, they might not be helpful at all, according to Dr. Mark Parrish, regional medical director of the medical and travel security firm International SOS.

Are the Heavy-duty masks better?

N95s are better than simple surgical masks for the general population at preventing respiratory infection. But they might not be fool-proof either. It makes a tight seal around your mouth and nose, making it harder to breathe in. And this might be dangerous to people with respiratory problems. But, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has cleared face mask respirators including N95s for use by the general population. However, it is recommended that you discuss it with your healthcare provider before you start wearing them, mentioned Columbia News.

Also, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) doesn’t recommend the use of masks for the general public without symptoms.

But, experts do not see any harm if you chose to wear it anyway. So, if you decide to wear them, do it the right way:

  • Wear them consistently. Keeping them on or off whenever you please might not help
  • Wash your hands after taking them off
  • Wear it correctly with a good fit covering your nose and mouth
  • Don’t ignore other hygiene practices
The deadly coronavirus outbreak in China has killed at least 80 people, while the global infection tally is approaching 3,000
The deadly coronavirus outbreak in China has killed at least 80 people, while the global infection tally is approaching 3,000 AFP / DALE DE LA REY