Novel Coronavirus Prevention by the WHO
Until February 29th, the World Health Organization (WHO) published guidelines on properly using masks as prevention against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The WHO urged everyone to refrain from excessively using masks to prevent shortages, as it is unnecessary for those without symptoms such as coughing and sneezing, even in communal places including schools, train stations, and manufacturing facilities.
In a February 28th press conference, the Executive Director of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme, Dr. Michael Ryan stressed, “Not having a mask does not necessarily put you at any increased (risk) of contracting the disease.”
Understanding the need for people to gain a sense of safety and security, Dr. Ryan expresses, “We do not criticize people who wear masks.” Dr. Ryan continues by declaring that “the most important thing” is to practice very precise hygiene, such as washing hands, and keeping hands away from the face.
According to the guidelines, people who need to wear masks are those with symptoms such as coughing and sneezing, which is effective in preventing further spread of the infection, by suppressing the contagious droplets. It is also effective for those caring for their family members at home. The N95 masks, which is almost impenetrable against viruses, and made for doctors and nurses, are actually not used during every medical treatment; regular masks are often sufficient, and it is recommended to use tools which are appropriate to the medical situation.
Even in events where packages are handled by countries with a large number of infected persons, such as China, the use of masks or gloves are unnecessary.