In the early stages of the outbreak, Western health officials told the masses that wear N95 masks was not useful or advised.
Many doctors and nurses were appalled at this advice as they know that the N95 masks that they wear are critical in protecting both themselves and their patients.
Was this advice to help keep supplies for hospitals and healthcare staff?
Meanwhile in Asia, China, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea and other countries are all wearing masks in public.
Asia is controlling the outbreak better than the West. Is it due to wearing masks?
Experts are now agreeing around the world. N95 masks help protect against coronavirus transmission and saves lives.
‘This virus is transmitted by droplets and close contact. Droplets play a very important role — you’ve got to wear a mask, because when you speak, there are always droplets coming out of your mouth,’ George Gao, who works with the Chinese Center for Disease and Prevention, told Science Magazine.
‘Many people have asymptomatic or presymptomatic infections. If they are wearing face masks, it can prevent droplets that carry the virus from escaping and infecting others,’ Gao said.
A public health expert at the University of Birmingham in the UK, KK Cheng, thinks it’s common sense that wearing a mask would help protect more people from contracting coronavirus.
‘Just imagine you’re traveling in the New York [City] subway on a busy morning. If everyone wears a mask, I’m sure that it would reduce the transmission,’ Cheng said.
Another expert says if it’s practical for doctors and nurses to wear masks to protect themselves from viruses, then why wouldn’t the same logic apply for everyone else?
‘It doesn’t make sense to imagine that … surgical masks are really important for health care workers but then not useful at all for the general public,’ Benjamin Cowling, an epidemiologist at the University of Hong Kong, told Science Magazine. ‘I think the average person, if they were taught how to wear a mask properly … would have some protection against infection in the community.’