As the Wuhan virus continues to spread, more and more people are making a beeline for stores to buy whatever it is they deem effective in protecting themselves from the novel coronavirus. Tensions have been high as the demand for masks has increased drastically, and stores seem to be running out. In recent news, online prices for masks have even been reported to have reached up to S$288. However, experts are saying that not everyone actually has to wear a mask.
In a recent interview with The New Paper, Dr. Chia Shi-Lu, chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Health said that people who are not ill do not need to wear masks. “The surgical masks can prevent the passing of virus from a wearer, but when it comes to protecting (a healthy wearer), the masks won’t protect from viruses,” he said. He went on to explain that contrary to popular belief, viral transmissions are not normally airborne–instead, they are usually transmitted through physical touch.
According to Dr. Chia, people who are sick should take precautionary measures to ensure that people around them do not get sick. “[W]ear a mask only if you are unwell and going out so as not to pass your germs to other people,” he said.
The MOH recently released an advisory on measures people can take to protect themselves and others from the Wuhan virus. The advisory stressed the importance of frequent hand washing with soap and water as well as the scheduling of doctor’s appointments when necessary. It also urged anyone experiencing any fever or respiratory symptoms to wear a mask and seek medical assistance should the need arise.
With regard to N95 masks, many of which have also been used as protection from the Wuhan virus, Dr. Chia said that it is not advisable for the public to resort to using them as they are made specifically for trained medical practitioners. In fact, such masks, when used the right way, will constrict one’s breathing.
Though Dr. Chia understands that people only want to be safe, he warned of the possible repercussions of wearing a mask when it is unnecessary to do so. “[W]earing masks can give people a false sense of security and cause them to be less aware or careful of their surroundings, and we don’t want people to be doing that.”
With the confirmed number of Wuhan virus cases in Singapore now being 10, the public is urged to remain vigilant against fake news and to follow government advisories.
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