MUMBAI: Amid the coronavirus scare, the Maharashtra government issued a statement on Wednesday saying that except the medical staff treating the infection or those who have come in contact with patients, others need not use face masks.
For those with other existing health conditions the use of a mask may create unintended complications, it added.
With the virus spreading fast in many countries, people are flocking to medical stores to stock on hand sanitisers and face masks. There are reports of these products disappearing from stores in some places.
In a statement titled "CORONA-KNOW IT TO FIGHT IT", the state health department said the general public need not use face masks.
"General population can use folded cotton handkerchiefs for self-protection which can be reused by keeping in bleach solution or hot water for half hour followed by the thorough washing," it said.
"For a person with an existing medical condition, wearing a mask may inadvertently complicate the situation," it added.
N-95 masks which are sold in shops are meant only for medical staff treating patients, it said.
The persons with a history of travel to COVID-19 affected areas or those having contact with infected persons showing symptoms of the COVID-19 should use the masks, it said.
In Maharashtra, of the 167 travelers quarantined since January upon landing at the Mumbai airport, only nine are currently admitted to isolation wards.
The state has not reported any confirmed case of virus infection.