Experts advise whether you should be wearing a Coronavirus mask

Catriona Harvey-Jenner, Cyan Turan
Photo credit: Nophamon Yanyapong / EyeEm - Getty Images

From Cosmopolitan

Coronavirus is pretty much all anyone can talk or think about at the moment, with the deadly disease having spread globally since it was first reported in the Chinese province of Wuhan in January. The rapid escalation of the virus has led to a public health panic, with major sporting events being cancelled and international travel slowing down.

At the time of writing, there have been more than 132,000 cases of Coronavirus worldwide and around 5,000 deaths.

Despite best efforts to contain the virus at its epicentre, the presence of the disease in Europe and across other contents has now increased and has now been deemed the epicentre of the pandemic according to the World Health Organisation. The current total number of cases in the UK now stands at 798, with incidences being detected in all four regions of the country.

It's unsurprising, therefore, that you might have seen people wearing face masks on public transport and in busy areas, in a bid to prevent themselves from falling victim. So should you be scrambling on Amazon, looking to get one for yourself? Here's everything you need to know about Coronavirus.

What is coronavirus?

A Coronavirus is a type of virus - this specific coronavirus is called the Wuhan Novel Coronavirus and presents as a flu-like illness at first. As a group, coronaviruses are common across the world.

What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

Typical indicators of coronavirus include flu-like symptoms including a fever and a cough. These symptoms may progress to shortness of breath and severe pneumonia. The NHS and the government now advise that you should self-isolate if you have a "new, persistent cough" or a fever for 7 days.

Generally, coronavirus has a worse impact on older people and those with weakened immune systems, perhaps because they suffer from other conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease. Most cases appear to be mild and those who have died from it in appear to have had pre-existing health conditions.

Photo credit: Anadolu Agency - Getty Images

Should you be wearing a mask to prevent it?

Dr Jake Dunning, Head of Emerging Infections and Zoonoses, Public Health England, tells Cosmopolitan UK that while face masks play an important role in clinical settings, such as hospitals, there is very little evidence of widespread benefit from their use beyond this.

"Face masks must be worn correctly, changed frequently, removed properly, disposed of safely and used in combination with good universal hygiene behaviours in order for them to be effective," Dr Dunning advises.

"People concerned about the transmission of infectious diseases would do better to prioritise good personal, respiratory and hand hygiene.”

The upshot? Keep yourself clean, wash your hands, and hold your hand over your mouth if you cough. Most importantly, follow the advice to self-isolate for seven days if you feel the onsent of symptoms. You do not need to call the 111 online coronavirus service to declare you're in isolation, but if symptoms persist longer than a week, continue to quarantine and call them.

Can Coronavirus be stopped from spreading further around the UK?

Sadly it's hard to contain the virus, and as we've seen globally, it's likely to spread even more virulently in weeks to come. The virus is believed to have an 'incubation period' of up to 14 days, which means people might only show symptoms two weeks after exposure to an infected person. During this time it's unlikely a person would know they are contagious, which is how it is often passed on. As many of us travel around the world extensively, it's been impossible to prevent the spread across borders.

Public Health England says the UK is now one of the first countries outside China to have a prototype specific laboratory test for this new disease.

How should I self-isolate?

You need to take it very seriously - for yourself and others. The NHS advice for self-quarantine is as follows:

Do:

Don't:

  • Invite visitors to your home or allow visitors to enter
  • Go to work, school or public areas
  • Use public transport like buses, trains, tubes or taxis
  • Share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, bedding or other items with other people in your home

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