‘Seriously people – Stop buying masks!’: US Surgeon General warns

Washington: The US Surgeon General has a message for people who want to run out and stockpile masks to combat the coronavirus — don't.

"Seriously people — STOP BUYING MASKS!" Surgeon General Jerome Adams tweeted. "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!"

The upper-case emphasis is all his, and shows how adamant he is that people stick to the script for prevention offered by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. His tweet links to that script, which includes a section that essentially agrees with Adams' take on masks.

"CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19," the CDC says.

"Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others."

The CDC recommendations add that "the use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings."

US Vice President Mike Pence, left, speaks while Vice Admiral Jerome Adams, U.S. Surgeon General looks on.Credit:Bloomberg

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said last week that the US has a stockpile of 30 million N95 masks but needs at least 270 million more for health care workers alone to prepare for a more widespread outbreak.

For the rest of us, the CDC says we should avoid close contact with people who are sick; avoid touching our eyes, nose, and mouth; stay home when we are sick; and cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

More than 70 cases of the virus have been confirmed in the US, including one death. Globally, more than 86,000 cases have been confirmed, the vast majority of them in China. Almost 3000 people have died, more than 2800 of them in China.


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