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Wearing Masks vs. Washing Hands
Published on: 2020-02-11
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Interview in CGTN with Dr. Joseph Shumway
Chief Medical Officer of
United Family Heathcare in Tianjin033

The “most important” way to stop the spread of China’s coronavirus is to wash your hands, according to David Heymann, professor who headed the World Health Organization’s (WHO) global response to SARS epidemic in 2002-2003.

That’s because “if you touch a patient, if you shake hands, if you touch a door that has a droplet on it - which could theoretically happen - then you touch your face (or) your mouth and you become infected.”

032“So, handwashing is the most important. And second is, people who are suspected as being patients, be very careful when you are dealing with them. Avoid face-to-face contact and wash hands when you’re treating,” Heymann said.

“It is very important that people understand that they can prevent themselves from being infected if they follow a few simple measures,” he added.

‘Not a lot of evidence’ to support wearing masks

031The panic buying of face masks to protect against the coronavirus was “completely understandable,” but ultimately unwarranted. They also warned a shortage of masks could pose a risk to health workers. It was thought wearing masks might be useful if you’re sick in order to prevent you from sneezing or coughing into somebody’s face.

But, “a mask that is used to stop getting an infection is sometimes not very effective because people take it off to eat, many times they are worn improperly (and) if they get wet and somebody sneezes on that mask it could pass through. So, there is really not a lot of evidence (to support wearing masks).”

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