Coronavirus Q: 'Will a face mask help protect me?' A: It's complicated.

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Help? Yes. Fully protect you? Of course not.

It’s the same as 2FA, it’s probably trivial to beat if someone really wants your shit, but if you don’t have it you’re leaving yourself at greater risk.


What I’ve read is that the masks should be really reserved for people who are sick - i.e. coughing/sneezing - it’s effective at stopping the spread there. It’s not very effective for everyone else. Even assuming the mask is fitted properly, if you get exposed to a sick person, every other part of the body is still getting covered with virus-laden particles. Assuming you avoid getting them in your eyes, the minute you take off the mask, you’re touching contaminated surfaces (yourself, the outside of the mask, etc.) and potentially moving the virus to your mouth, nose and eyes…

Apparently some areas are having runs on masks, all the stock being bought up to be used by the uninfected, a highly counter-productive strategy.


"If it makes you feel better, wear a surgical mask.”
Thanks, doc, that was reassuring like the sound of ice cracking.


That is here. In the pharmacy this morning: Masks sold out with no known next shipment. Limit of 2 bottles of alcohol, 2 boxes of alcohol wipes.

Then again there is a high baseline use of them around here without any outbreaks and high volume of travel to and from China.

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Agree, but with Chinese Corona virus, you don’t have any symptom even when infected and able to infect others. This incubation period is about one week.
This is very different than SASR.
So wearing a mask every-time you are outside cause you don’t know if you are sick yourself is maybe a safe move for now. (For people in these area)

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Is anything is 100% safe? Do people get killed even wearing a safety bell?
Without so much knowledge on how this Virus is spreading, wearing a mask is only a first step on slowing down infection.
Mask also have a second advantage: You are not touching your face automatically as you use to do.
So, overall, If you are in China right now; please wear a mask, for you and for the others.
Incubation period is also the time you are able to contaminate others. That the big difference with others flu.

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Maybe this comment belongs in the “obvious in retrospect” thread:

The kind of face mask to protect the wearer is different from the kind to protect others from a sick wearer.

Some of the respirators pictured in the article have exhale valves which obviously won’t filter exhaled air. Even then, most respirators are designed (tested) for particulate sizes around 2.5 micron (I think), so may be inadequate against germs and viruses, except to the extent that they are piggybacking on other things such as water droplets.

Surgical masks were designed to prevent germ transmission to an open cavity during surgery. As alluded to in the article, there is no sealing around the edges to prevent unfiltered air from entering. I’d think that viruses and germs could migrate through the filtering medium after their water droplet carriers evaporate, but I guess that’s why they’re supposed to be disposable.


Piggybacking on water droplets is exactly what viral particles do. When you cough, an aerosol of small water droplets with viral particles inside get expelled. So that it exactly what you don’t want to inhale, and a properly fitting N95 can help prevent it.

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