Wearing a face mask is a protective measure to avoid the infection of many air-borne diseases especially the new strain of coronavirus which causes the disease called COVID-19 and has become a pandemic globally. Wearing a safety mask is an easy and effective way to protect yourself and others from getting infected.
Role of Face Masks in COVID-19
To prevent the infection and transmission of the coronavirus, we need to follow some preventive measures such as social distancing, washing hands and wearing protective masks in crowded places.
Many health agencies including the Centre of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have started to encourage all the citizens to wear safety masks in outdoor places, especially crowded places. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) as of 12th May 2020 has advised only two groups of people to wear protective masks:
- Those suffering from COVID-19 having active symptoms
- Those providing care to suspected COVID-19 patients
World Health Organization (WHO) has also advised the general public to stop using surgical masks and respirators so that they can be reserved for the health workers and medical professionals as they are more at risk in their workplace. Homemade cloth face masks are advised for people who might be contagious but show no symptoms. (Source: BBC News)
Types of Face Masks – Which one works the Best
- The N95 respirators and FFP2 respirators are recommended for all health workers
- These are the most protective masks as they filter out 95% of the airborne particles.
- These masks are made to fit the face tightly to allow minimum leakage.
- These are disposable, loose-fitting masks made of breathable fabric.
- These masks are also effective in protecting against airborne particles like the respirators
- Cloth masks are available at stores and also can be made at home (DIY cloth masks)
- These are not effective enough against small particles as they are loose-fitting and the fabric is porous. If made with a thick fibre cloth, they can be effective in preventing tiny droplets in case you cough or sneeze.
Safety Tips for Handling Face Masks
- Be sure to wash your hands with soap and water before you put on a mask as well as after removing it.
- When wearing or removing the mask, handle them from the straps and do not touch the front part of the mask
- Avoid touching the mask while wearing it
- Wash the cloth masks with detergent, dry it properly and keep in a paper bag. It’s better to keep it for 2 days before using it again
- If you need to reuse your surgical or respirator mask, keep it inside a paper bag for at least 7 days as this will ensure the inactivity of the virus
- Wearing a mask does not ensure complete security and we still need to maintain social distance and proper hand hygiene
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