The spread of the deadly coronavirus — which has quickly become an epidemic and forced the cancelation of major trade shows — has sent people scrambling to figure out how to protect ourselves from getting it, including buying up as many face masks as possible. There’s no vaccine yet, so the best line of defense is to follow standard hygiene procedures — the most important of which is washing your hands. Frequent hand-washing, not wearing a face mask, is the most important step the public can take to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, that’s the position of the World Health Organization.
Michael Ryan, the executive director of the WHO Health Emergencies Program, addressed the use of face masks during a media briefing. The WHO stance regarding surgical masks being worn by the general public is that only those who are already sick with a respiratory illness should wear them.