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As coronavirus spreads through China, drugstores are selling out of surgical masks.
Take a look through the news stories and you'll see photos of concerned citizens with their faces covered.
But is covering your mouth enough to prevent this life-threatening illness?
And if not, what's really the best way to stay healthy?
We spoke with an expert to better understand this outbreak.
So coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are responsible for about 25 % of cases of the common cold.
Before this latest outbreak, there were six coronaviruses that were known to infect humans.
And four of them were just kind of common cold viruses that occasionally could cause pneumonia or severe disease.
Coronavirus is an umbrella term that refers to a family of upper-respiratory diseases, including the common cold, MERS and SARS.
The virus can present in several ways.
Sometimes as a mild illness and sometimes as a life-threatening disease.
The current strain in China is highly contagious, hundreds of people have been infected, and several have died.
On January 21, it was confirmed that this strain of coronavirus has made its way to the U.S.
Soft surgical masks, like the one shown here, are designed to prevent the wearer from spreading their germs to others.
But they won't prevent inhalation of airborne germs.
Their loose sides reduce their effectiveness as a barrier against disease.
To block out the greatest number of airborne germs, you'd need an N95 respirator mask.
This mask is what a surgeon would wear around a patient with a highly infectious disease, like tuberculosis.
These masks aren't a foolproof solution for the public either.
Surgeons get their masks fitted and generally only wear them for a short period of time.
Just buying a mask from the drugstore wouldn't give you the same snug fit around the mouth that keeps those germs from getting in.
Furthermore, respirator masks actually filter air, which makes them a great barrier against disease.
But according to Dr. Amesh Adalja, they restrict oxygen flow too much to be worn all day.
A study conducted by the University of New South Wales found that when worn correctly, these masks have an 80% efficacy rate of protecting the wearer against a proven viral infection.
This study focused on the spread of influenza, but Dr. Adalja says that the two diseases spread in comparable ways.
Coronaviruses spread through the respiratory route, so that's through coughs and sneezes and little droplets to come out of your mouth.
And that's pretty much very similar to the influenza.
They do spread very readily, and that's the concern when you have one that can cause severe illness.
Unfortunately there's a catch.
The same study found that mask-usage compliance, or the portion of people using the masks effectively was only 50%.
With the noncompliant users incorporated, there was no difference in infection rate between the mask wearers and the control group.
So what's the best way to keep yourself safe?
Dr. Adalja's advice is simple.
So the best thing you can really do is to practice good hygiene, wash your hands, stay away from sick people if you can.
If you're in those parts of China where cases have occurred, you want to stay away from the live animal markets which may have been part of the origin of this new virus.
But there isn't anything specific you can do other than a lot of common sense and good hygiene.
If you do choose to wear a mask, try to follow the rules:
Don't remove the mask frequently, touch your face under the mask or reuse it.
Doing so will greatly diminish its benefits.
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【武漢肺炎】當全民瘋搶口罩...它真的能抵擋冠狀病毒嗎? (Will A Mask Really Protect You From Coronavirus? - Cheddar Explains)

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seraya.chen 發佈於 2020 年 2 月 3 日    seraya.chen 翻譯    Yukiko 審核
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