Pharmacies are selling out of surgical face masks.
If you haven’t had a chance to get your hands on one, however, there’s no need to be overly worried – experts have been reminding the anxious public that wearing a mask is not the best defence against coronavirus.
Proper handwashing is the best prevention
As the World Health Organisation upgrades the risk of the disease spreading to ‘very high’, vigorous hand washing remains the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19, an illness that can affect your lungs and airways.
The key here is in the word ‘vigorous’. Experts advice washing your hands using soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds – that’s roughly as long as it takes to sing Happy Birthday.
🚨 “Our epidemiologists have been monitoring these developments continuously, and we have now increased our assessment of the risk of spread and the risk of impact of #COVID19 to very high at a global level”-@DrTedros #coronavirus
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) February 28, 2020
Other proven ways to prevent the spread of the virus include not touching your mouth and eyes, covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough and sneeze, placing used tissues directly into the bin and washing your hands immediately and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces in your home and workplace.
“Don’t use a face mask if you feel well and do not have symptoms – there’s no evidence that using masks is of any benefit if you are not sick.” the HSE states on their website.
The advice regarding masks is to use one if you:
- have or may have coronavirus
- are in close contact with someone who has or may have coronavirus
- are a healthcare worker in close contact with people who have or may have coronavirus.
Experts have expressed concern that worldwide panic-buying of surgical maks will deplete stocks, preventing masks from getting to those who really need them, particularly frontline medics and emergency personnel.