Coronavirus Outbreak: Can Surgical Masks Protect From The New Virus? Know Here

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Coronavirus is spreading through China and with several confirmed cases abroad. Are surgical masks useful against the new virus and are there alternatives?

Written By Shubham Bose | Mumbai | Updated On:

With the coronavirus fast spreading through China and with several confirmed cases abroad, a lot of people are wearing surgical masks in an effort to protect themselves from possible infection and exposure to the new disease. But are surgical masks really effective? And are there any alternatives that people can use? Read on to know:

Surgical masks useful against the new coronavirus?

According to reports, the common surgical mask can only provide moderate protection. Surgical masks are designed for surgeons, their main task is to keep pathogens from the surgeon's nose and mouth from entering the surgical field. While people in Japan and China often wear thinner surgical masks in order to protect themselves from pathogens and pollution, those masks are not very useful against viruses.

The masks are not designed to keep out viral particles and they do no fit very tightly around one's face and chin. Therefore the masks are only moderately effective, as per reports. There exists another mask, the N95 respirator that can protect against the coronavirus, but reports suggest that people should not use this respirator. The N65 respirator is a specialized mask that is thicker than the surgical mask. The mask is very hard to put on and very hard to keep it on for long periods of time.

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Specialists that wear those types of masks are trained on how to properly wear the masks around their nose, cheeks and chin. Wearing the mask makes it harder to breathe and it can also get claustrophobic fast. That is why the N95 respirator is not a good mask to be worn for everyday use.

Crisis getting worse

Multiple countries across the world have not only started evacuating their citizens from China but have also started applying travel restrictions for Chinese nationals and those coming from the country. 

Amidst the growing crisis, WHO has repeatedly stated that it stands by China for its efforts to tackle the crisis. Director-General of WHO, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus recently stated, "Let me be clear: this declaration is not a vote of no confidence in China.  On the contrary, WHO continues to have confidence in China’s capacity to control the outbreak...To the people of China & to all of those around the world who have been affected by this outbreak, we want you to know that the stands with you."

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