We don’t need face masks for coronavirus. But there are other ways to protect ourselves – Health


It has been an enormous 12 months for face masks — and it is solely February.

First, it was bushfire smoke.

Now, Australians have been panic-buying face masks to guard themselves from coronavirus.

Described by the World Well being Organisation as ‘public enemy number one’, the coronavirus outbreak — dubbed COVID-19 — has greater than 69,000 confirmed instances, and greater than 1,600 folks have died.

It isn’t clear how widespread or lethal the flu-like an infection might be, however Australian well being officers say there isn’t a want for most of the people to put on face masks.

There are, nonetheless, quite a lot of methods you possibly can scale back your danger of being contaminated — and in doing so, enhance your odds of staving off different infections, together with the flu and customary chilly.

Surgical masks ‘no use’ for wholesome folks

Specialists consider these with coronaviruses most frequently spread the infection via “respiratory droplets” — the little secretions we generate after we sneeze or cough.

Due to this, the virus tends to unfold between people who find themselves in shut contact.

Surgical masks — those you usually see in public — present some barrier towards bigger droplets and splashes of fluid being shared by contaminated folks.

For this reason people who find themselves sick are inspired to put on them, and why they’re a wise precaution in a spot like Wuhan, the illness epicentre.

Surgical face masks, nonetheless, will not be designed to offer respiratory safety, mentioned Abrar Chughtai, an infectious illness epidemiologist from the College of New South Wales.

“When face masks had been designed within the early 19th century, surgeons began utilizing them to stop the unfold of their pathogens into working fields,” Dr Chughtai mentioned.

“The primary goal … was to stop the unfold of an infection.”

Surgical masks don’t present a seal across the face, and due to this fact don’t filter viral airborne particles.

It is a completely different story for well being care staff, and the Australian Authorities has urged them to wear face masks.

“They’re in direct and shut contact with sufferers … so they need to use face masks or respirators,” Dr Chughtai mentioned.

Respirators, reminiscent of the P2 masks recommended for bushfire smoke, are thicker than surgical masks and capable of filter 95 per cent of airborne particles.

Nevertheless, these masks are uncomfortable and tough to put on for lengthy durations of time, so they aren’t really useful for common use in nations the place transmission will not be widespread.

Wash your fingers correctly

Given there isn’t a vaccine to stop the newest pressure of coronavirus, one of the simplest ways to stop an infection is to keep away from being uncovered to the virus.

As an alternative of worrying about face masks, wholesome folks ought to take each precaution they usually would to keep away from catching the flu.

As with colds and different seasonal viruses, one of the necessary issues you are able to do is wash your fingers — and wash them usually.

Analysis exhibits hand washing considerably helps to stop sickness and the unfold of an infection.

Hand washing should not simply comply with rest room use. You must also wash your fingers:

  • after you cough or sneeze,
  • earlier than you eat and while you put together meals,
  • after you deal with animals,
  • when you take care of somebody unwell.

Your handwashing approach can be necessary — a fast splash beneath the faucet will not minimize it.

To get correctly germ-free fingers, you could wash them for at the least 20 seconds with cleaning soap beneath clear, working water.

When there is not any water, a hand sanitiser or gel that contains at least 60 per cent alcohol is your greatest wager.

Be conscious of what you contact

The commonest approach seasonal sicknesses unfold is when our fingers decide up bugs from contaminated surfaces. As soon as the virus is on our fingers, it is all too straightforward for it to be transferred to our mouth, nostril or eyes, the place it may possibly extra readily enter cells and make us sick.

So, keep away from touching your eyes, nostril or mouth, particularly if you have not washed your fingers for some time.

In the event you cough or sneeze, attempt to cowl your mouth and nostril together with your elbow or a tissue, earlier than throwing the tissue right into a closed bin.

It is a good suggestion to scrub and disinfect ceaselessly touched objects and surfaces.

As is the case for colds and flus, keep away from shut contact with people who find themselves sick. And in case you’re sick, preserve your distance from others to guard them from getting sick too.

When going to the GP

If in case you have been to China and you’re experiencing flu-like signs, you need to instantly telephone your GP and clarify your signs and your journey historical past.

Don’t make an appointment or attend a GP follow or hospital with out informing them first, as they might want to make preparations to guard others earlier than you arrive.

If in case you have come into contact with somebody who may need coronavirus, you will discover extra detailed recommendation here.

Observe our coronavirus protection

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