Coronavirus or COVID-19 is a zoonotic strain of the virus, which means it transferred from an animal to humans. The latest update shows 86,992 cases, people who were affected, among whom, unfortunately, 2,979 perished. Not surprisingly, people around the world are concerned. I recently travelled within three cities in India and found a large number of people wearing face masks at airports and even in offices and restaurants. Can that protect you from the virus?
The Surgeon General of the United States recently posted a comment that said: “Stop Buying Masks.” In his opinion, the people directly in contact with seriously ill patients needed to change their masks frequently and were at genuine risk of contracting various diseases. If the entire world started buying masks, it would create a shortage, denying those who genuinely needed the mask.
He wasn’t callous. Experts agree that a mask is not the best way to prevent the virus from transferring between people. Most people I saw wearing masks were wearing regular masks, the kind you wear when cleaning a house or hospital.
Only a special mask called the N95 is believed to be effective in preventing contracting the virus. The coronavirus is larger than many other viruses at between 27-34 kilobases (a measure of DNA) but still very tiny. A small opening in your mask could expose you to the virus.
You are far safer if you wash your hands regularly, using protocols defined by the Centre of Disease Control, for example. Stop touching your face, eyes and nose frequently, especially if you are in a public place. You are most likely to have picked up the virus from touching other objects with your hands. It will then transfer to your respiratory system as you touch your face. Not travelling to areas affected will also reduce your risk significantly. Building your immunity and allowing your body to fight the virus is the safest known answer.
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PS Thank you to a reader for pointing out that the facts in this article are incorrect. Subsequent events showed us that a mask is the best way, along with washing hands, in preventing an infection. It turns out that the Surgeon General was only trying to prevent masks from running out for medical staff. Wearing a mask is necessary.