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Will Wearing a Face Mask Protect Against Coronavirus?

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The second person to contract coronavirus in the U.S. wore a face mask, officials confirmed Friday, raising questions about how well they work to stop the spread of the disease and what people can do to reduce their risk.

“This patient’s doctor office appropriately asked about travel history and quickly put a mask on the patient,” Dr. Allison Arwady, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said at a press conference.

The flu-like virus that causes respiratory infections is quickly spreading across China.

It has killed at least 26 people, with 830 confirmed cases. Chinese officials quarantined Wuhan, the city at the center of the outbreak, and worked to expand the lockdown to an estimated 30 million people in surrounding areas.

Health officials are also screening passengers on international flights for symptoms such as fever, cough and trouble breathing. Some were seen wearing face masks at Los Angeles International Airport.

According to experts, commercially-available masks only go so far.

“The kind of masks that the general public is using don’t block out all the air,” Dr. Roshini Raj told Inside Edition. “You’re still breathing in air from the outside.” 

Mask or no mask, Raj had one key tip: practice good hand hygiene.

In the U.S., more than 2,000 people have been screened for the virus, according to the CDC. Sixty-three patients across 22 states are being monitored for possible symptoms, while officials work to learn more about the virus and how it’s spread.

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