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HomeNewsDo You Need a Mask to Prevent Coronavirus?

Do You Need a Mask to Prevent Coronavirus?

2020-03-17

COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, arose in China but has since spread to many countries-including the U.S. Though the risk to most people in this country remains low, many are buying face masks to help protect themselves.


But face masks aren`t an effective way to prevent the illness for most healthy people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization. That includes plain, loose-fitting masks sometimes called surgical masks; tighter-fitting N95 respirators, which filter out 95 percent of airborne particles; and reusable face masks sometimes advertised as dust masks.


The interest in masks is understandable, says William Schaffner, M.D., a professor of medicine in the division of infectious diseases at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville. But any benefit healthy people may get from wearing a mask is likely modest. In fact, if you`re not sick or taking care of people who are, wearing a mask comes with downsides. Here`s what you need to know.


So Who Does Need a Mask?
People with symptoms that could be COVID-19-such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath-should wear a mask when they are around others, to limit the spread of infection, the CDC says.

In addition, since the novel coronavirus is thought to spread mainly between people who have close contact-meaning within 6 feet-with each other, those who are caring for someone suspected of having COVID-19 should also consider wearing a mask, according to the CDC and WHO.

If you`re in one of those groups, it`s important to use masks properly. Wash your hands before putting the mask on, and then try not to touch it . If you do, wash your hands again. Discard the mask as soon as it`s damp. To remove it, handle the elastic around your ears (not the front of the mask), throw it away immediately, either in a closed plastic bag or a bin with a lid, and wash your hands again. Don`t reuse the mask.

Healthcare workers should also use masks to protect themselves-preferably an N95-when caring for people suspected of having COVID-19, according to the CDC.

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