Coronavirus: If you’re sick, wear a medical mask — but not an N95

Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, the technical lead for the World Health Organization’s Covid-19 response, said people who are sick and their caretakers should wear face masks — but stressed that N95 masks need to be reserved for health care workers.

“What we recommend is that people who are sick wear masks — medical masks, not N95 masks with respirators. Those must be reserved for our frontline workers who are caring for patients,” she said at a CNN town hall on coronavirus last night.

“We also need people who are caring for those who are sick to be wearing the masks,” she added.

She said right now, it’s crucial that personal protective equipment in short supply be reserved for medical workers.

“We have to prioritize the use of masks for frontline workers, if that is one thing I can stress. Medical masks, respirators, gloves, gowns, these are people who are putting their lives on the line to help us, to care for other people and they must be protected,” she said.

Some background: The WHO has been one of the strongest holdouts when it comes to recommending the widespread use of masks. US health officials recommended the same — but they may be shifting course.