TUESDAY, Feb. 11, 2020 (HealthDay News) — As millions in China scramble to find and wear face masks they believe will protect them against the new coronavirus, many Americans are trying to do the same.
In a new survey conducted by the National Community Pharmacists Association, nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of U.S. pharmacists said they have had customers buy surgical masks as a precaution against coronavirus, and nearly all — 96 percent — said that demand has led to shortages as outlets wait to restock shelves. Forty percent of pharmacists surveyed said they cannot get enough respirator masks to meet customer demand, and there have also been runs on hand sanitizers, surface sanitizers, and gloves.
In a recent news briefing, Nancy Messonnier, M.D., director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, stressed again that “we don’t routinely recommend the use of face masks by the public to prevent respiratory illness, and we are certainly not recommending them at this time for this novel virus.”
Meanwhile, fast-tracking promising tests, drugs, and vaccines to help slow the outbreak of the new coronavirus is being discussed at a meeting of experts arranged by the World Health Organization. More than 300 scientists were expected to take part remotely in the two-day meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, that began Tuesday, the Associated Press reported. There are no licensed drugs or vaccines for the new coronavirus. Diagnostic tests have been developed, but there are no rapid tests.
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