U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adam, in a tweet that caught the attention of the media, has asked the people to avoid purchasing masks for protecting themselves from Coronavirus.
"Seriously, people," he began, and though it's a tweet, you can almost hear the exasperation in his plea. "STOP BUYING MASKS!
According to Dr. Adam masks are NOT effective in preventing the 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! "They are NOT effective in preventing the 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!" he added.
Washing your hands, staying home when sick, and other "everyday preventive actions" are the best protections, Adams said. He urged people to get a flu shot, as fewer flu patients mean more resources to fight the Coronavirus.
The tweet comes during what has become a mask boom both in the international market and, more importantly, in a poor country like Afghanistan, where the first signs of Coronavirus were noticed in western Herat province.
- The surgeon general of the United States
The surgeon general of the United States is the operational head of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps and thus the leading spokesperson on matters of public health in the federal government of the United States. The surgeon general's office and staff are known as the Office of the Surgeon General (OSG) which is housed within the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health.
The U.S. surgeon general is nominated by the president of the United States and confirmed by the Senate. The surgeon general serves a four-year term of office and, depending on whether the current assistant secretary for health is a Public Health Service commissioned officer, is either the senior or next most senior uniformed officer of the commissioned corps, holding the rank of a vice admiral.
- Price gouging face masks in Afghanistan
After Afghanistan confirmed its first case of the Coronavirus in the western province of Herat on Monday, the prices for protective face masks have skyrocketed. Previously, each mask was sold for one Afs. and now each one is sold for 20 Afs. In Kabul and 30 Afs. in Herat province.
According to Dr David Carrington, of St George's, University of London, "routine surgical masks for the public are not an effective protection against viruses or bacteria carried in the air", which was how "most viruses" were transmitted, because they were too loose, had no air filter and left the eyes exposed.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the following to prevent the spread of any respiratory disease:
Avoid close contact with people who are sick or infected
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
Stay home from school or work when you are sick.
Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
If soap and water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
About the author: Mohammad Timor Nawabi is the former Senior Media Analyst and Public Diplomacy Adviser to NATO Ambassador Resolute Support Deputy Commander in Afghanistan.