Coronavirus has now killed more than 500 people, with tens of thousands around the world infected.
Worried travellers might think that donning face masks and gloves offer the best protection but a top airline doctor has warned that they’re more likely to spread the bug than stop it.
As coronavirus spreads globally, people have been donning masks, believing that it will help protect them from catching the bug.
The rush to buy the protective equipment has caused some pharmacies to run out.
But on flights, they do little to help, according to David Powell, a doctor and medical adviser to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
He told Bloomberg that, if anything, they make the situation worse.
This is because unlike on the ground, the air in a plane cabin goes through filters – the same type used in hospital operating theatres – which eliminate upwards of 99.97 per cent of viruses.
And since the virus can’t survive long on seats or armrests (as it needs a living host), you’re more likely to catch it through physical contact with another passenger.
Gloves are one of the worst culprits for this since you will be touching everything you would normally touch with your hands and you probably won’t think about cleaning them before, for example, touching your face.
And when your hands get hot and sweaty inside, it creates an even better environment for microbes to grow.
In terms of face masks, there is little evidence to show they will protect you against viruses.
But if you are sick, you should wear one as it helps prevent your germs from being spread to other people.
You will need to change it frequently though, as otherwise viruses could be transmitted through the material and, in some cases, the mask could even become a petri dish for viruses and bacteria.
The best way to avoid coronavirus comes down to frequent hand washing, according to Dr Powell.
He suggests washing or sanitising your hands often, and using a tissue to cover your face if you need to cough or sneeze, remembering to wash or sanitise your hands afterwards and avoid touching your face at all times. If you use a sanitiser, make sure it’s an alcohol-based one.
This article originally appeared on The Sun and has been republished with permission