With Delhi reporting its first confirmed case of coronavirus, more and more countries are reporting their first case of COVID-19 as the infectious disease continues to spread globally. Since the World Health Organization (WHO) has already declared the coronavirus outbreak to be a public health emergency, this infectious disease is triggering worldwide panic.
The novel coronavirus has already infected around 80,000 people and killed 3,000 people. Hence, there is no denying that the illness poses a very grave threat for the rest of the world. As the fear of coronavirus continues to spread, the sales of masks have spiked up worldwide, especially in China.
Are the masks effective against the novel coronavirus?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), this disease can spread through viral droplets that are ejected from a person’s mouth during coughing, sneezing and even talking. So, if you are considering buying a mask as a means of prevention against coronavirus, you are not alone.
As more and more people rush to buy (and hoard) the masks, it may lead to a situation where healthcare providers may face a shortage of the same. This is why it is important to understand whether the masks are of any use in preventing the novel coronavirus or not.
Experts worldwide have emphasized against the usage of masks if you are:
1.Not a medical worker
2.Not infected with COVID-19
3.Not in close contact with infected patients
4.Not caring for an infected person
5.Not in the outbreak zone
6.Not showing any flu-like symptoms
Infact, US surgeon general Jerome M. Adams took to Twitter on Saturday to advise people to stop being masks. He wrote, “Seriously people — STOP BUYING MASKS! They are NOT effective in preventing the general public from catching #Coronavirus, but if health care providers can’t get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!”
Masks are not foolproof
Hence, while masks may be the best way to prevent the spread of the disease if you feel that you are coming down with the flu or cold, it is not exactly a foolproof defence against coronavirus. This is because most people don’t know how to wear it properly leading to leakage and even take it off several times a day to eat or drink. However, if you want to find the mask which may potentially help you fight against viral infections, it is important to understand what exactly you are looking for.
The disposable mask, like the surgical face mask, is designed to keep large droplets from a person’s mouth from splashing. However, they aren’t made to block out tiny particles in the air. These masks should not be worn for more than 3 to 8 hours.
N 95 respirators are your best bet as they are tightly fitted and filter out particles which are almost 0.3 microns in diameter. This respirator gets its name from the fact that it blocks almost 95 per cent of tiny particles suspended in the air. It is important to note that the coronavirus measures almost 0.12 microns in diameter. Suggesting that it may be ineffective in preventing infection.
How to wear the N95 respirator correctly
Make sure the mask fits snugly around the nose and mouth and there is no space for air to pass through. Do not touch the mask throughout the day and leave it on. These medical respirators must have an efficiency rating of N95, FFP2, or a similar rating that refers to how many particles (and of what size) they can filter.