What you need to know.
Don’t rely on a face mask to protect you from coronavirus or other cold and flu bugs.
Reports of pharmacies and supermarkets running out of face masks have hit the headlines in recent weeks. But don’t worry if you haven’t got one. The masks won’t provide protection against coronavirus, Ministry of Health director-general Dr Ashley Bloomfield said.
Ordinary paper or dust masks don’t stop fine particles. While the N95 mask (also called a “P2 mask”) does have a respirator that filters fine particles from the air, the masks will only provide some protection if they’re close-fitting enough to create a seal around your face. If they fail to do that, they’re useless.
Health authorities also point out viruses can contaminate the exterior of a face mask. This means if anyone removes or touches a mask that’s been infected and forgets to wash their hands, they risk catching the virus.
To reduce your risk of catching or spreading airborne viruses, the Ministry of Health recommends:
Travellers who become sick within a month of their arrival in New Zealand should contact their doctor or Healthline (0800 611 116).
Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that include the common cold, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). In January, officials in China identified a new coronavirus called novel coronavirus or 2019-nCoV.