A few months ago, wearing a face mask during a visit to the grocery store may have seemed silly. In fact, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has given a public health message that most of the people don’t need to wear face masks.
But as the number of novel coronavirus cases has skyrocketed, experts are reconsidering the use of surgical masks as it could slow the spread of the virus. The CDC says it is now reconsidering its policy and maybe considering a recommendation for encouraging broader use of face masks. At the moments, the CDC says that people who are sick or those who are caring for someone who is sick are the only people who need to wear a mask.
CDC Director Robert Redfield said that CDC is reviewing the data around face mask use by the general public. He said the data and the issue if it’s going to contribute to controlling the virus are being aggressively reviewed as they speak.
President Donald Trump weighed in suggesting the public may want to wear scarves. He said that he would say to do it, noting that face masks are needed for health care workers. He added that people can use scarves, they can use something else to protect themselves and others.
Dr Deborah Birx said the task force is still considering it whether to change the recommendation on use of face masks.
Other public health officials have been discussing this issue. Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement said that wearing a face mask is an additional layer of protection for those people who have to go out, It’s a preventive step that you can take — on top of washing your hands and avoiding gatherings.
In a paper outlining a road map to reopen the country, Gottlieb wrote that face masks will be most effective for slowing the spread of novel coronavirus if they are broadly used, because they may help in preventing people who are asymptomatically infected from further transmitting the virus unknowingly.
He points to Hong Kong and South Korea, two places that have managed the outbreak successfully and where masks are used widely.
Director-General of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, George Gao said Europe and the United State are making a big mistake with the public not wearing face masks during this deadly pandemic. He said, wearing masks help tamp down the risk by asymptomatic people.
If asymptomatic people wear face masks, it can prevent droplets that may carry the virus from infecting others.
It turns out that the majority of infected people are asymptomatic or show mild symptoms. This means there is no proper way to know who is infected or not. If you are going out in public, you may not even know that you’re infected and maybe inadvertently spreading the virus every time you talk or sneeze.
An Infectious disease epidemiology researcher at the Oxford Vaccine Group at the University of Oxford, Elaine Shuo Fing said that if asymptomatic people wear face masks, then it can be helpful for reducing the transmission of the virus in the community.
There is no such evidence from the published research that wearing face masks while going out to protect the person wearing a mask from contracting the virus. In fact, randomized controlled trials considered the standard for checking the effectiveness of the intervention, are limited and the outcomes of there trials were inconclusive.
The outcomes may not be conclusive but researchers have agreed that wearing face masks is better than nothing. There are some modest data that shows that it will provide modest protection and may be helpful in controlling the spread of the novel coronavirus.