Although 'To be or not to be' is the question, right now, 'To wear a mask or to not wear a mask' seems to be more important. Researchers and medical experts have their own opinions about whether healthy individuals also need to wear a mask in public and while most of them are opposed to it (since mass panic has created a shortage of masks for people who actually need it), some of them believe opting for masks can't really do any harm even if it won't benefit you.
But with such a drastic shortage of masks all across the globe, what is one supposed to do? Experts suggest you make your own mask, either literally, or figuratively since you could just use a scarf instead. One expert says that masks will only work if everyone wears them. “It only works if everyone wears (them), and if everyone does, you only need a very basic mask, because a piece of tissue can block it,” said KK Cheng, director of the Institute of Applied Health Research at Birmingham University. “It’s not perfect, but that’s much better than nothing.”
“It’s not clear whether homemade masks would reduce transmission, there has been very little scientific research on this topic,” said Benjamin Cowling, an epidemiologist at the University of Hong Kong. A study conducted in 2013 had also found that improvised masks could help reduce the risk of getting an infection but couldn't really prevent it. “Our findings suggest that a homemade mask should only be considered as a last resort to prevent droplet transmission from infected individuals, but it would be better than no protection,” the study said.
“There is no specific evidence to suggest that the wearing of masks by the mass population has any particular benefit,” said Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s emergencies programme, in a briefing on Monday. “In fact, there is some evidence to suggest the opposite,” he said, adding people often did not know how to wear or remove the mask properly. “Right now the people most at risk from this virus are frontline health workers who are exposed to the virus every second of every day. The thought of them not having masks is horrific,” he said.