United States Surgeon General, Dr. Jerome M. Adams, has warned members of the general public to stop stocking face masks. The top health expert said wearing face masks will not prevent people from contracting Coronavirus, and that it is better for healthcare professionals to have access to face masks because of their care for coronavirus patients.
Dr. Adams made the call via a tweet on Saturday morning.
“Seriously, people — STOP BUYING MASKS!” he tweeted. “They are NOT effective in preventing the general public from catching #Coronavirus, but if health care providers can’t get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!”
The surgeon-general made the call against the backdrop of people rushing to buy face masks with the fear of coronavirus reaching the US. The panic-purchase has led to shortages of masks online and in stores around the world, with available masks becoming costlier and pricier than in normal circumstances. In fact, experts said there are now counterfeit masks in the market with people not being able to tell the difference.
Many people on Amazon sell face masks for at least $10 each, and one individual even advertised 160 pieces for $800. Funny enough, the listing is no longer available as at now since someone must have snapped up the deal.
Dr. Michael J. Ryan, executive director of the health emergency program at the World Health Organization (WHO) said the scarcity of masks is now a serious concern to the medical community.
“There are severe strains on protective equipment around the world,” he said. “Our primary concern is to ensure that our front line health workers are protected and that they have the equipment they need to do their jobs.”
Director for the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Dr. Robert Redfield, also stated that masks must be left for people caring for sick individuals at home or in hospitals. He said healthy members of the public do not need them until they become sick.
“There is no role for these masks in the community,” he said. “These masks need to be prioritized for health care professionals that as part of their job are taking care of individuals.”
Drs. Adams and Ryan advise people to observe proper hygiene since this is the surest way to not contract the disease and to not spread it to other people. They advised people to always wash their hands with soap and water for up to 60 seconds and to stay home away from other people when sick or ill.
“There are limits to how a mask can protect you from being infected,” Dr. Ryan said. “The most important thing everyone can do is wash your hands, keep your hands away from your face and observe very precise hygiene.”
Vice President Mike Pence disclosed that manufacturing giant 3M has been contracted to produce 30 million masks per month, and that about 40 million masks will be available soonest.