‘Normal people doing normal work’ need not wear mask – WHO official
MANILA, Philippines – A World Health Organization (WHO) official has reminded the public that most people can go about their daily lives without using surgical masks.
“Normal people going about their normal work don’t need to wear surgical or N95 masks,” WHO country representative Rabindra Abeyasinghe told reporters on Tuesday.
He issued the clarification after seeing some reporters wearing face masks at a press briefing.
It has become common to see people wearing surgical masks in public in the wake of ashfall from Taal Volcano’s eruption on Jan. 12 and the threat of a pandemic due to the spread of a novel coronavirus that has claimed the lives of more than 100 people.
The new strain of coronavirus has already reached Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, Australia, Malaysia, Nepal, the United States, Canada and France.
When to wear a mask
One may wear a mask if he or she has signs and symptoms of respiratory infection, according to Abeyasinghe.
Those visiting somebody in a healthcare facility where there is a concentration of people with respiratory infections, or those going to crowded places or a wet market may also opt to wear masks, the WHO official said.
“But you don’t need to routinely wear mask morning to evening. I’m just trying to reassure you that you don’t face such a high risk that you need to wear a mask at the press conference given by the health secretary,” he added, eliciting laughter from the crowd.
With the high demand for face masks not only in the country but globally, Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo appealed to the public to reserve the N95 for those who really need it.
“N95 masks and gloves are only recommended for those taking care of sick people and who are in contact or those who are under investigation,” said Domingo.
Washing of hands
At the House of Representatives, Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin, a former health secretary, said that using face masks in schools or workplaces might be of some help against the new coronavirus but proper hygiene “especially the frequent washing of hands: was still the best way to avoid contracting the disease.
Garin reminded the public further that “used masks should be disposed of properly.”
As of Tuesday, the country had no confirmed case of the virus after a series of false alarms and health checks of suspected carriers, according to the Department of Health.
Garin called for calm amid the health scare surrounding the viral outbreak from Wuhan, China.
“It’s one thing to take precautionary measures but it’s another to spread fear and hysteria,” she said. – WITH A REPORT FROM DJ YAP INQ
For more information about the novel coronavirus click here.
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