News World To mask or not to mask: confusion spreads over coronavirus protection

To mask or not to mask: confusion spreads over coronavirus protection

“Do not wear a mask if you are well” read a warning plastered across the front of Singapore’s main newspaper on Friday, as authorities around the world sought to calm panic buying of masks seen as a guard against the fast-spreading coronavirus.

In neighbouring Malaysia, the government urged people to always have masks and hand sanitisers ready, similar to advice by authorities in Thailand and Vietnam.

Conflicting messages have sowed confusion over how to protect against an epidemic that has claimed over 200 lives in China and spread to over 20 countries, with some experts saying wrong handling of masks could even increase infection risk.

“Wearing a mask only when u feel unwell? Then why do u need soldiers when there isn’t war? It’s better to be safe than sorry” Facebook user Kenny Chan Wai Kong posted in Singapore, where authorities have announced plans to give four masks to every household as retailers’ stocks run dry across the island.

In parts of Asia, wearing face masks is common when people are sick or to counter urban pollution.

Official guidance from the World Health Organisation and the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention makes no mention of wearing a face mask as a preventative measure against the virus – but their websites do not specifically advise against them.

Australia and Taiwan have said healthy people don’t need masks, but Australia has released 1 million masks from the national medical stockpile, and masks are widely worn in Taiwan’s capital Taipei where the government has imposed purchase limits and an export ban on masks.

The Taiwan Railway Administration said on Friday that if the virus continues to spread it will refuse to carry passengers not wearing masks.

MASKS MUST BE FITTED CORRECTLY

Coronavirus can be transmitted from person to person, although it is not clear how easily. Most cases have been in people who have been in the Chinese city of Wuhan at the centre of the outbreak, family members of those infected, or medical workers.

Transmission is likely through contact with an infected person via particles in the air from coughing or sneezing, or by someone touching an infected person or object with the virus on it and then touching their mouth, nose or eyes.

“Situations that require a mask are when you are in a crowd…or if you are caring for a sick person. If it makes you feel better, wear a surgical mask,” Angela Rasmussen, virologist at the Center for Infection & Immunity at Columbia University said on the Reuters Global Markets Forum.

Other experts have said disposable surgical masks may not fit the face tightly enough to prevent infection, while some have pointed out that wrong handling of masks such as touching the front could increase the likelihood of infection spread.

In Hong Kong, a lawmaker who chairs the city’s government health services panel was slammed over a short video she posted showing people how to steam and re-use disposable face masks.

More unusual advice has seen India’s government suggest a traditional concoction that includes ginger and holy basil as virus protection, while a Myanmar minister was rebuked for sharing a Facebook post that advised people to eat more onions.

Some overseas Chinese have been buying masks to send to friends and relatives in China, where some stocks have been running out. Chinese citizens living in Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia sent 150,000 masks back to their home province of Gansu on Thursday, China’s Xinhua news agency reported.

In China, where nearly 10,000 cases have been reported so far, Zunyou Wu, chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told state broadcaster that people need to wear masks when taking public transport.

(Reuters)

Top Stories

Man dies in Paphos car accident

A 78 year old man named as Iezekiel Papaioannou from Panayia died in a car accident on Wednesday around 1 pm on a Paphos...

Bernie Sanders suspends 2020 Democratic campaign

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders suspended his campaign on Wednesday, making former Vice President Joe Biden the presumptive nominee to face Republican President Donald...

HIO issues instructions to beneficiaries for contacting PD for Covid symptoms

The Health Insurance Organisation (HIO) issued on Wednesday instructions for Gesy beneficiaries regarding communication with their Personal Doctor (PD) to report Covid-19 symptoms. As per...

32 more test positive to Covid-19, total now 526

Another 32 people tested positive for coronavirus the Health Ministry said on Wednesday, up on yesterday’s levels (29). This brings the total number of confirmed...

Paphos cheered by high number of negative Covid-19 results

Paphos residents have been cheered by the results of coronavirus testing among the community which showed only four positive cases from a total sample...

Taste

Stuffed vine leaves without meat

(Dolmadakia gialantzi) Rinse the leaves and boil in salted water for approximately 10 minutes until soft. Drain and place in some cold water with ice...

Snails with tomato sauce

When the snails are ready, drain them. Fry the onions in the oil and once slightly brown, add the tomatoes. Stir until cooked well...

Sea bream with capers

Clean the sea bream well, add salt and pepper to them and brush them with olive oil. Mix the capers and parsley together as...

Halloumi bread

Sift the flour with the salt into a bowl and mix in the yeast and lemon rind. Make a well in the centre of...