Who should to wear a face mask during the coronavirus outbreak, and who should not
- The new coronavirus has infected over 82,000 people and killed over 2,800.
- Some preventative measures can help protect you from contracting the virus: Washing hands frequently, avoiding touching your face, and staying away from sick people are all recommended.
- But wearing a face mask is not necessarily an effective option for everyone.
- Here's how to determine whether you should wear a mask.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
If you're wondering whether you need a medical face mask to protect you from the new coronavirus, you probably don't.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) only recommends masks for a select group of people: Those in a region currently experiencing an outbreak, healthcare workers treating coronavirus patients, and anyone who experiences flu-like symptoms.
For the rest of us, preventative measures like washing your hands frequently, avoiding touching your face, and staying away from sick people are all probably more effective than wearing a mask.
Since the outbreak began Wuhan, China, in December, more than 82,000 people have been infected and at least 2,800 have died. Cases have been recorded in 49 other countries. Health agencies are working to contain outbreaks in South Korea, Italy, and Iran, while the US is also preparing for an uptick in cases. (For the latest case total and death toll, see Business Insider's live updates here.)
The coronavirus spreads via droplets when people are within about 6 feet of one another. In healthcare settings, it also can spread via exposure to infected patients' saliva, phlegm, blood, and respiratory droplets.
Here's who needs to wear a face mask and who doesn't.
There are two kinds of masks: surgical masks and N95 respirators.
If you live in an outbreak zone, you should wear a mask.
If you're a healthcare worker treating coronavirus patients, it's standard procedure to wear personal protective gear, including masks.
If you're caring for someone sick at home, you should also wear a face mask.
Patients who have tested positive for the coronavirus should wear masks in healthcare settings.
Health agencies recommend that anyone experiencing flu-like symptoms wear masks when around other people.
If you're a healthy person who's not in an outbreak zone and you don't work in a medical setting, you don't need a mask.
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