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A traveler wears a mask while walking through John F Kennedy International Airport amid coronavirus fears in New York on March 11. — Reuters

Coronavirus: Who really needs to wear a face mask?

Many across Asia wear face masks for protection against Covid-19; in Europe and the US, they are less commonly worn.
Updated Mar 26, 2020 05:57pm

LONDON: Many people across Asia wear face masks to try and protect themselves against Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. In Europe and the United States, masks are less commonly worn, but many people are asking: Should they wear them during the pandemic?

The World Health Organisation’s advice is that if you are healthy, you only need to wear a mask if:

Masks work by capturing droplets that are dispersed in coughs, sneezes and breath — these are the main transmission route of the new coronavirus.

There are two main types of mask: surgical masks, which are strips of fabric worn across the nose and mouth and closer-fitting ones sometimes called respirators.

“Wearing a mask can also reduce the propensity for people to touch their faces, which happens many more times a day than we all realise and is a major source of infection without proper hand hygiene,” said Stephen Griffin, an associate professor at Leeds University’s Institute of Medical Research.

Published in Dawn, March 26th, 2020