Covid-19:Should I be wearing a surgical mask?

As we see the number of COVID-19 cases multiplying world-wide, the recommendations around whether or not we should all be wearing face masks are getting more and more confusing. Experts in China recommend that everyone should wear one. In other countries like Japan and Hong Kong, people are advised to wear them if they are going to be in a crowded area.

Here in the US, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) does not recommend face masks for people unless they are healthcare workers, sick, or taking care of someone that is sick. Similarly, the WHO (World Health Organization) directs that face masks don’t really prevent healthy people from getting infected from viruses.

So what should we be doing?

“A surgical N95 (also referred as a medical respirator) is recommended only for use by health care personnel who need protection from both airborne and fluid hazards (e.g., splashes, sprays),” the CDC reports. “These respirators are not used or needed outside of health care settings. In times of shortage, only health care personnel who are working in a sterile field or who may be exposed to high velocity splashes, sprays or splatters of blood or body fluids should wear these respirators, such as in operative or procedural settings.”

Protecting the people caring for patients is vital to preventing the spread of coronavirus.