The public are not compelled to don masks routinely in light of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak.
Surgical masks were first introduced into hospitals in the late 18th Century but they did not make the transition into public use until the Spanish flu outbreak in 1919.
Face masks are famously used to stop the spread of airborne viruses, like flu, but can they protect against coronavirus and should Britons consider wearing them when they leave the UK?
Hong Kong's government has said it is "striving to procure more surgical masks to cope with the epidemic", revealing that it has contacted 140 suppliers in ten countries. The new virus has fueled demand for them around the world.
It's unclear if television personality Busy Philipps was concerned about the coronavirus, the flu or just getting a cold when she shared on social media Tuesday that she "lost her flying face mask" and "went to three different pharmacies last night that were all sold out".
"So at this stage, we will not recommend the N95 mask for the general public", Dr Sim added.
USA orders evacuation of diplomats from Wuhan
Like the flu, the Wuhan coronavirus seems to have a greater impact on older adults and people with underlying health conditions. Authorities around the world have confirmed more than 1,200 coronavirus cases so far, including two in the United States.
"I started to look on other websites and saw that many are out of stock and the ones available had significantly increased in price".
By the time, Henry Xu got his hands on a few boxes of N95 respirator masks at a Toronto hardware warehouse on Monday, he had already struck out at all the major online retailers and a local drugstore. This is a worrying time for people like us who depend on these types of masks. Tam provides that the effectively being care workers who had been responding to SARS had been additionally using other preserving measures.
There has been a low risk of Coronavirus in Canada.
Because experts don't yet know exactly how the virus is transmitted, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending that health care workers treat it like an airborne pathogen - germs that can travel in particles or droplets in the air. But Schaffner says the scientific evidence that "there might be a benefit for people in the community wearing [surgical] face masks is very, very meager".
"Antiviral hand foams and gel can also be useful when you are out and about".
PHW said some residents in Wales had been offered screening for the virus as they "meet the current testing criteria", but they would not say how many as numbers were "so low". "Due to the fast nature that the Coronavirus has become prevalent, there has been an unprecedented demand for the N95 masks which are clinically proven to be able to support the reduction of virus spread", said Jobilal Vavachan, CEO of Aster Primary Care, Aster DM Healthcare.