community from respiratory illness, especially [those] in close contact with sick people,” said Dr. Raina MacIntyre. She’s head of biosecurity research at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia.
MacIntyre’s group did a study where parents of a sick child wore a mask at home. Those who wore the mask at all times were protected, she said.
“When infection is widespread, it may be useful,” she noted.
However, images from China show people wearing face masks that aren’t likely to help, MacIntyre said.
“I recommend disposable masks,” she said. “The cloth masks used commonly in China may not be protective. We did a trial of these, compared to disposable masks, and wearers had a higher risk of infection. This may be because the cloth masks are not washed regularly and may retain moisture and become contaminated.”
So far the coronavirus has spread to 19 countries, with five confirmed cases in the United States. In China, nearly 6,000 have been infected, with 132 dead.
Schaffner noted that this coronavirus spreads the way flu does, yet the