Surviving COVID-19? Things you should know about face masks

By | April 21, 2020

Surviving COVID-19? Things you should know about face masks
Surviving COVID-19? Things you should know about face masks

Surviving COVID-19? Things you should know about face masks : The virus that began in 2019 in Wuhan, China, has now affected over 185 countries worldwide. Although the mortality rate of the virus is about 3% only, it is highly contagious due to its easy mode of spread through droplets. This means that you can even contract the virus by breathing in air containing virus droplets!

There are a few precautionary measures suggested by WHO and CDC which help minimize the risk of spread of infection. These include, thorough washing of hands, maintaining distance from people, eating well cooked food and wearing protective masks when going out. There has been a debate about the benefit of wearing face masks due to the various types available in the market. However, it is agreed that the use of masks substantially reduces the spread of infection. There are a few things that should be taken care of while wearing face masks for bacteria and viruses.

The mask should be worn with no gaps between the mask and your face. This will make sure that there is no other way for the air droplets to reach your face except for passing through the face mask. The mask should be worn correctly and it should cover the person’s nose, mouth and chin.

Any type of mask can be used by general public to avoid spread of infection. This also includes homemade fabric masks. The specialized masks should be kept mainly for the frontline professionals e.g. medical personnel. This prevents the spread of infection from a sick person and protects the healthy individual from contracting the virus in the air. The risk of contracting the virus doesn’t get to zero by wearing a mask only but certainly the risk gets minimized.

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The masks should be worn and removed in a certain way to avoid touching the mask, which is loaded with germs. A proper protocol is designed to do so that needs to be followed.

People are often unaware of the correct purpose of various types of masks in the market. Here is a guide on a few major types of masks available and their properties.

The best one of all available masks is the N95 mask/respirator. The material and the design eliminate the major risks of passage of infected droplets containing virus/bacteria. There are further various types of N95 masks. Some variants possess an exhalation valve system which keeps the temperature inside the mask normal. The valve in the mask helps in ventilation and keeps the temperature inside comfortable for the user. The N of the N-95 indicates that it doesn’t give protection against oil-based particles. 95% us the efficiency of the mask’s filter. With many pros, one con that comes with the mask, apart from being relatively expensive is the discomfort it causes, due to its face-fitting design.

Surgical masks are one of the most commonly seen masks of all times. These are primarily made for use in hospitals, critical and surgery units. Surgical masks are usually loose fitting, rectangular masks made of material that doesn’t allow large droplets to penetrate. It is waterproof. Although these are of no help for healthy people who want to put masks to prevent getting infected, these can be used by the people who are sick or at risk of spreading infection.

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Antiviral masks, as the name suggests are masks specialized for protection against viruses. The mask contains substances that have anti-viral properties which help combat viruses that may encounter the masks. However, these masks do not provide protection against all viruses. Usually they are used to prevent the spread of the common flu viruses.

Dust/antipollution masks are easily available in the market. These are usually made of double layered cotton or nylon. These prevent the entry of dust, some bacteria and provides protection against smog and smoke particles. These masks are breathable and relatively comfortable to wear. However, these do not serve protection against viruses and similar germs.

The types of masks that are disposable should be discarded after single use. Whereas the reusable masks should be washed and cleaned before reusing them. Each of the type serves its own purpose and should be used in the correct manner and at the correct setting.

Although wearing face masks is an important precaution that needs to be taken, washing hands thoroughly and frequently, as well as practicing social distancing is equally important and should be done religiously.

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