Coronavirus is contagious, meaning it spreads from person to person through close contact. Now the so-called “protective” face masks are flying off the shelves – prices have soared and in many places they’ve sold out. But do they really work?
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has its own advice on whether or not to don the latest health accessory.
The organisation states: “If you’re healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you’re taking care of a person with suspected coronavirus (2019-nCoV) infection.”
However, if you’re coughing and sneezing, the WHO does recommend to wear a mask.
“Avoid touching the mask while using it; if you do, clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.”
“Replace the mask with a new one as soon as it is damp and do not reuse single-use masks.”
“To remove the mask: remove it from behind (do not touch the front of mask); discard immediately in a closed bin; clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.”
Public Health England have a more reserved approach to the use of face masks.
The UK health body states: “Face masks play a very important role in clinical settings, such as hospitals, but there’s very little evidence of widespread benefit from their use outside of these clinical settings.”
If people choose to wear a face mask, Public Health England adds: “Facemasks must be worn correctly, changed frequently, removed properly and disposed of safely in order to be effective.”
The best way to protect ourselves from coronavirus, according to Public Health England, is to “wash our hands frequently with soap and water, or use a sanitiser gel”.
Additionally, it recommends “carrying tissues and using them to catch coughs and sneezes, then putting the tissue in a bin”.
To summarise, taking on board the recommendations of all three of these professional health bodies, it would appear face masks can help to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
However, it’s only useful if you’re showing symptoms of the infection and is a more of a precautionary step to stop infecting others.
Here, it is important to wear, use and dispose of the face mask safely.
People going about their everyday activities, who are perfectly well, probably aren’t going to get any beneficial use of wearing a face mask.
And so, no, don’t bother buying a face mask that has increased 800 percent in price – it’s not worth it.