Greece’s Infectious Diseases Coordinator and Health Ministry spokesperson Dr. Sotirios Tsiodras is advising against the use of surgical masks and gloves by the general public as a means of protection from COVID-19.
Tsiodras, who appears daily at 6:00 pm on television giving Greek people the latest update on the coronavirus pandemic, says that the use of plastic gloves and surgical masks can do more harm than good by creating a false sense of security.
The Health Ministry spokesman is following the World Health Organization guidelines. He says that surgical masks and gloves can be used by doctors and medical staff, and people who are infected by the coronavirus and don’t want to pass it on to others.
Additionally, they can be worn by people whose work does not allow them to follow the social distancing guidelines of keeping a distance of 1.5 meters (5 feet) from each other.
The World Health Organization’s advice since the start of the global outbreak is simple: wash your hands well, don’t touch your face, and keep your distance.
The WHO advises: “Only wear a mask if you are ill with COVID-19 symptoms (especially coughing) or looking after someone who may have COVID-19. Disposable face masks can only be used once. If you are not ill or looking after someone who is ill then you are wasting a mask.”
Tsiodras says that wearing gloves makes people forget or neglect to wash their hands. Additionally, the coronavirus can stay alive on the surface of the gloves for hours.
Wearing a mask can make one feel free to come closer to others than 1.5 meters away, defeating the purpose of social distancing orders. Also, most people who wear masks tend to readjust them every so often, in which case they touch their faces or the outer surface of the mask several times.