This video by Daily Nation shows hundreds of Kenyans in the streets of Nairobi buying regular surgical masks being sold by hawkers. The hope is that the masks will prevent those wearing them from contracting the coronavirus which was announed to be present in Kenya early today. Kenyans who watched the video have already raised issues over the effectiveness of the surgical masks, for two reasons:
- The surgical masks do no guarantee the wearer from contracting coronavirus, as the virus can still get into someone’s body through the eyes or any other body orifices.
- People who should wear the masks are those who are already infected when they have to interact with others, so that when they cough or sneeze the masks can at least trap majority of the virus from escaping to the environment. Others advised to wear the masks are medical workers who are taking care of those already infected, and even so they are advised to wear the N95 respirator.
It’s not just those Kenyans who have questioned the reasoning that is driving Kenyans to buy the masks enmass. When the virus founds its way to the United States, citizens of that country also showed a similar level of panic thereby went into a mask buying spree, forcing the US Surgeon General to tweet:
Seriously people- STOP BUYING MASKS!
They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus, but if healthcare providers can’t get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!
Health experts elsewhere have told healthy people not to wear surgical masks for Coronavirus, instead advising them that the strongest weapons at their disposal is “basic preventive measures like hand-washing and sanitizing surfaces”.
And it’s not just that wearing the ordinary surgical masks won’t prevent you from contracting the virus, but even if you decided to wear the professional N95 respirator you still won’t get any added health benefit. That’s according to Food and Drug Administration through an article meant to advise Americans on the precautions they ought to take following the outbreak of the virus in the US.
The idea here is, don’t let fear make you gullible so much so that you become a prey to croocked business men and women who want to advantage of mass ignorance. Rather, take time to research about the ailment, and encourage your friends and relatives to do the same.
Specifically, take heed of this advise that has been circulating online:
1. If you have a runny nose and sputum, you have a common cold. Coronavirus pneumonia is a dry cough with no runny nose.
2. Sunlight will cut the virus’s ability to grow in half, so the half-life will be 2.5 minutes, and in the dark it’s about 13 to 20 [minutes]. The idea here is that warmer environment and direct sunlight should help limit the spread of the virus, but not prevent it entirely.
3. Avoid touching surfaces on public places that are touched by many people, as the virus tends to live for long on those surfaces. If you have, or must, then make sure you have washed your hand thoroughly with soap or with a sanitizer.
4. Wash your clothes regularly with detergents and air them in direct sunlight. Refer to point 2 above.
7. Drinking warm water is effective for all viruses. Drinks lots of water and drink it regularly. However, keep in mind that the advise making rounds that If the coronavirus gets in your mouth, “drinking water or other liquids will WASH them down through your esophagus and into the stomach. Once there in tummy … your stomach ACID will kill all the virus” has been debunked. Water will only help in keeping you stay healthy and strong, and the virus doesn’t take healthy strong people down.
The most important advice of all, DO NOT PANIC.
See also: The two things I love about coronavirus