JERUSALEM (VINnews) — Israel announced new steps Wednesday evening in an attempt to curb the further spread of coronavirus in the country, with the number of positive COVID-19 patients topping 6000 already.
The new steps require all people to wear masks when in public places. At the same time Israel’s health ministry urged the public to prepare masks themselves and to leave the surgical masks on sale in stores for medical personnel who are suffering from an acute shortage of such items, rendering them more susceptible to being infected while treating patients with coronavirus.
The efficiency of masks in preventing infection is a matter of debate in the medical community. The World Health Organization (WHO) claims that healthy persons do not need a mask unless they are treating a coronavirus patient. Moreover, masks themselves are not enough to protect a person without proper hygienic procedures as well. However, masks are effective at capturing droplets, which is a main transmission route of coronavirus, and some studies have estimated a roughly fivefold protection versus no barrier alone (although others have found lower levels of effectiveness).
Thus, for people who are likely to be in close contact with someone infected, a mask cuts the chance of the disease being passed on. If a person exhibits symptoms of coronavirus, or has been diagnosed, wearing a mask can also protect others. So masks are crucial for health and social care workers looking after patients and are also recommended for family members who need to care for someone who is ill – ideally both the patient and carer should have a mask.
Since there is evidence that many people could be carriers of the disease without having any overt symptoms, it is deemed wise to require them for the entire population. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) may also urge Americans to cover their faces in public to protect themselves and others, according to a Washington Post report.