Coronavirus protection: Do N95 masks work? Should I wear a face mask amid outbreak? |

The deadly coronavirus has infected more than 950,000 and killed at least 48,000 since its discovery in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late December. The coronavirus has now reached more than 170 countries and territories, including the UK, Italy, France and Germany.


So far approximately 30,000 people in the UK have tested positive for coronavirus.

The death toll has now reached 2,352 people in the country, with more deaths being reported every day.

The Government is thinking “very, very actively” about stricter policies on social distancing.

READ MORE: Coronavirus outbreak: Virus to ‘spread with rapid increases’

Coronavirus protection

Coronavirus protection: Face masks have become a defining image of the coronavirus outbreak (Image: GETTY)

Coronavirus protection

Coronavirus protection: People have been wearing disposable face masks to protect themselves (Image: GETTY)


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Prime Minister Boris Johnson said “drastic action” was needed as the UK approaches “the fast growth part of the upward curve” in the number of cases.

This week, those with the most serious health conditions must be “largely shielded from social contact for around 12 weeks”.

Elsewhere, Italy has entered a tougher lockdown, with all “non-essential” businesses closed.

READ MORE: Coronavirus face masks advice could change after new evidence emerges 

Coronavirus protection

Coronavirus protection: The deadly virus is spreading across the world (Image: GETTY)Do N95 masks work?

People wearing disposable face masks have become a defining image of the coronavirus outbreak.

Experts say masks can be helpful in preventing the spread of the virus, but only if worn properly and under the right conditions.

However, if it’s a regular surgical face mask, the answer is “no” Dr William Schaffner, who is an infectious-disease specialist at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, told Live Science. 

A more specialised mask, known as an N95 respirator, can protect against the new coronavirus because it is thicker than a surgical mask.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends any health-care workers interacting with coronavirus patients wear a stronger kind of mask.

This is known as the N95 respirator and filters out 95 percent of pollutants.

Marybeth Sexton, an assistant professor at Emory University School of Medicine told Washington Post said these masks are “highly effective”.

However, apart from people in infected areas of China, covering once’s face and nose isn’t necessary for now, according to Colleen Kraft, associate chief medical officer for Emory University Hospital.

Coronavirus protection

Coronavirus protection: The deadly virus was discovered in December in Wuhan, China (Image: GETTY)

She told the publication: “Wearing a mask walking around isn’t going to do any good, but if you’re in a situation where you’re highly exposed, a mask is helpful.

“You may wear a mask when someone is going to cough directly on you or [in] a place with a lot of ill people.

“In a hospital, we wear a mask with patients who have influenza.”

Public Health England is currently not advising people to wear face masks.

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Anyone that has been to Wuhan in the past 14 days and has developed symptoms should phone NHS 111, Public Health England (PHE) has advised.

Symptoms include a cough, a sneeze, shortness of breath, or a fever.

People who are concerned should phone ahead before going to any medical facility and mention their recent travel to the city.

PHE also advises anyone travelling to China to maintain good hand, respiratory and personal hygiene, and avoid visiting animal and bird markets or people who are ill with respiratory symptoms.