If you head to the nearest pharmacy near you, chances are that you won’t be able to find a single face mask at any of them. Just like during haze season, many pharmacies are facing a shortage of protective face masks, as Malaysians seek to protect themselves in the midst of a panic surrounding the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak. But it turns out that the only benefit that wearing face masks has is to merely offer a degree of psychological comfort.
Dr Benedict Sim, a consultant for infectious diseases, has explained that it’s not necessary to wear the face masks in light of the recent outbreak. This is because there has been no “human-to-human” transmission of the disease in Malaysia thus far, with all confirmed cases have been Chinese nationals.
Basically, there hasn’t been an official recommendation for the public to wear face masks in public—although there’s nothing wrong with the habit per se. According to The Star:
“Masks are helpful when there are human-to-human transmissions but there is none in Malaysia currently. That advice may change over time, if the outbreak changes.”
A different story in China
Still, Dr Sim explains that you should still wear face masks if you’re visiting China. The coronavirus is spread through contact and droplets, so look out for a three-layer surgical mask for the best protection. Of course, the masks also have to be worn properly, while wearers should also look out for suitably-sized masks that fit the wearer well.
If you have (expensive) N95 masks from haze season that you don’t want to go to waste, there’s some bad news. The expert explains that these masks aren’t needed now, as the coronavirus isn’t airborne.
It’s worth noting that much of the discussion on the Wuhan virus outbreak has centred around the issue of fake news. There have been a bunch of false rumours making the rounds—but how many of us actually understand how the virus actually works? A good piece of advice is always to understand something before discussing it—have a look at the article in the “related reading” section below.