Everyone Is Trying To Stop The Coronavirus With A Mask – But Is It Helping?

The coronavirus has caught the attention of the media worldwide for its devastating effects in China.

Unfortunately, the dangerous pathogen has now reached 16 countries, including the United States.

Thousands of cases have risen across various regions of China prompting government officials to make it mandatory to wear a mask while in public- but is that really helping?

As of last Thursday the death toll had reached 638 worldwide, reports CBS News, with more than 31,000 people infected.

Coronavirus can cause illness from the common cold to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), and have symptoms similar to the flu.

The virus becomes deadly if the victim develops pneumonia.

This specific strand of coronavirus is believed to have come from a seafood and live animal market in Wuhan that was conducting “illegal transactions of wild animals,” reports BBC.

An overwhelming majority of those suffering from the virus are in China, which is why most of the efforts to contain the coronavirus are focused in China; even more specifically in the city of Wuhan.

Authorities in Wuhan have made it mandatory to wear masks when out in public, reports the Telegraph, where failure to comply results in “punishment.”

In the UK people have been requesting masks to protect themselves against the virus after two cases were reported to have been found there.

While wearing a mask does spread the message that you are dealing with something serious, as well as making citizens feel more protected, it may not prevent contraction of the virus like you think.

The virus spreads from person-to-person through sneezing, coughing, or shaking hands that have been contaminated.

A mask that blocks droplets carrying the virus from either entering your nose and mouth, or transmitting to someone else if you are infected, may aid in preventing the spread of coronavirus to a degree.

The problem is the masks generally worn by the public do not seal the nose and mouth, nor do they cover the eyes.

Also, in a medical setting, masks are thrown away after each use, and those wearing them in public are typically not getting a new mask every time they sneeze or change environments.

Even the popular surgical mask N95 respirator that filters “at least 95% of airborne particles”, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only filters particles as small as 0.3 microns.

The coronavirus is about 0.1 micron, and could easily get into the N95 respirator mask, according to Forbes.

Masks tend to be uncomfortable, especially if you are struggling to breathe, which is a key symptom of the coronavirus.

Professor Jonathan Ball, from the University of Nottingham, told BBC “it’s quite a challenge to keep a mask on for prolonged periods of time.”

I couldn’t even imagine trying to keep a mask on a rambunctious child or fickle toddler.

As Dr. Dunning, head of emerging infections and zoonoses at Public Health England, says to BBC News, “Face masks play a very important role in clinical settings, such as hospitals.”

In a medical environment things are controlled and important steps are taken at every turn to prevent the spread of pathogens, but in day-to-day life this is not practical.

That is why Dunning continues to say:

However, there is very little evidence of widespread benefit from their use outside of these clinical settings.”

Dr. Dunning suggests a more preventative strategy would be to keep “good personal, respiratory and hand hygiene.”

Despite this information, the CDC recommends you wear a mask when in a room with other people or when in a medical facility.

The World Health Organization merely tells people to prevent the spread of infection by washing hands regularly with soap and water.

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In addition to washing your hands and those little hands that love to touch everything possible, you should cover your nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing, thoroughly cook meat and eggs, and avoid animals.

The San Francisco Department of Public Health says that if you are going to wear a mask then check it for tears before putting it on and dispose of it at the end of every day, or when it becomes “moist.”

If you are in an area where cases of coronavirus have been reported, wearing a mask is a good idea, even if it gives you an ounce more of protection for you and your family.

Also, if wearing a mask is recommended by your doctor, or you feel safer with one on, then by all means comply.

Remember to use the safety recommendations while wearing a mask, and to touch the mask with clean hands only.

On the other hand, a mask is not necessary for most citizens, and may not protect from the intruding virus.