There have been two major questions about the use of masks: Can wearing a mask protect me from coronavirus? And if so, what type of mask is best?
There are three basic types of Mask: Homemade cloth face mask, Surgical mask, and N95 respirator.
Homemade face masks
Homemade face masks only offer a small degree of protection, but they may help prevent the spread of the coronavirus from asymptomatic people.
Also known as a medical mask typically protects the wearer from sprays, splashes, and large-particle droplets. It also prevents the spread of potentially infectious respiratory secretions from the wearer to others. The top of the mask contains a metal strip that can be formed to your nose.
N95 respirators can protect against smaller respiratory droplets, such as those containing SARS-CoV-2. However, this is not recommended for use outside healthcare settings.
Studies of influenza and influenza-like illness provide evidence that the use of a medical mask can prevent the spread of infectious droplets from sneezes and coughs of an infected person to someone else. But the use of mask made of materials (e.g Cotton and fabric) also known as non-medical masks, in the community setting has not been well evaluated, although, it is evident that the use of cloth masks in a healthcare facility increased the risk of infection for healthcare workers compared to those who wore medical masks.
According to the World Health Organization (W.H.O), medical masks can protect you against the new coronavirus, but only if combined with proper hand hygiene. The concerns around recommending masks are the false sense of security that might come along with wearing one. For example, Not getting a mask that perfectly fits, keeping it on for a long period can keep one at risk, and the minute you scratch your nose or mouth behind the mask, you have lost the protection that the mask is supposed to give.
However, the W.H.O recommends the use of a medical mask for specific cases:
- Health care workers
- Caregivers or those sharing living space with persons suspected of COVID-19 or with mild symptoms.
- Symptomatic people ( which include fever, fatigue, cough, sore throat, and difficulty breathing)
How to use a mask
For any type of mask, appropriate use and disposal are essential to ensure that they are effective and to avoid any increase in transmission. The following information on the correct use of masks is derived from practices in health care settings.
- Wash your hands with soap and water or clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub before putting on a mask.
- Place the mask carefully, ensuring it covers the mouth and nose, and tie it securely to minimize any gaps between the face and the mask.
- Avoid touching the mask while wearing it, to avoid contamination.
- Remove the mask using the appropriate technique: do not touch the front of the mask but untie it from behind.
- After removal or whenever a used mask is inadvertently touched, clean hands using an alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
- Replace masks as soon as they become damp with a new clean, dry mask.
- Do not reuse a single-use mask, discard masks after each use and dispose of them immediately upon removal.
Wearing a mask is one of the preventive measures that can limit the spread of the coronavirus, however, it won’t be effective without proper hygiene. The best practices to prevent the virus are:
- Washing of hands regularly with soap and water.
- Avoiding contact with the Mouth, Eyes, and Nose.
- Avoiding contact with sick people.
- Regularly disinfecting frequently touched areas in your homes.
- Maintaining social distancing and good hygiene.
- Most essentially staying at home.
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Keep staying safe and healthy!
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