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COVID-19: Why Indian Govt. Is Advising Against The Use Of Valved N95 Masks

As of today, there are 15,671,720 COVID-19 cases with 636,832 deaths. On a hopeful note, 9,557,084 have recovered. The virus outbreak that began in 2019 continues to cause casualties and vaccine trials are undergoing now, with the Oxford Covid-19 vaccine ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 running at the forefront.

To control and manage the situation, health authorities around the globe have advised everyone to stay in self-quarantine and to wear a face mask while venturing out homes to minimise the risk of spreading the disease.

Face masks offer protection against respiratory infections for health care workers and the general public and reduce community transmission, making masks one of the easiest ways to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease [1][2]. Surgical masks, cloth masks and N95 respirators are the standard masks that are currently in use.

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In a recent report, the Union Health Ministry has warned all states against the use of N95 masks with a valved respirator [3]. The warning stated that the valves do not prevent the virus from escaping out of the mask.

N95 Masks With Valved Respirator Prevents The Virus From Escaping

The officials said that the reason for banning the use of the N95 masks with a valved respirator is because it does not prevent the virus from escaping out of the mask. In the initial stage of the pandemic outbreak, the government had informed that the public should refrain from using N95 masks as they are critically needed by the frontline workers and first responders [4].

The inappropriate use of N95 masks, especially by the public, had caused a shortage, resulting in the Indian government informing the states to prevent improper use of N95 masks [5].

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"It is to bring to your knowledge that the use of valved respirator N-95 masks is detrimental to the measures adopted for preventing the spread of coronavirus as it does not prevent the virus from escaping out of the mask," said the Directorate General Of Health Services (DGHS) [6].

The statement further added that the with the virus staying inside the mask, the chances of an individual getting affected by the coronavirus is likely high and are 'detrimental' to the measures adopted for the containment of the virus. The officials added that it is suitable and safe to use cloths masks that cover the face or the nose and mouth completely.

"I request you to instruct all concerned to follow the use of face/mouth cover and prevent inappropriate use of N-95 masks."

Fabric Does Not Matter But Wash Your Mask In Boiling Water

Along with the advice against the use of N95 masks, the DGHS stressed the importance of following stringent health measures while using masks. You can use any used cotton cloth can be used to make a mask [7][8].

  • Face masks/covers (reusable) must be washed and cleaned each day.
  • The colour of the fabric does not matter but ensure that the material is washed well in boiling water for five minutes and dried well before making the face cover.
  • Add salt to the water that is used in cleaning the masks.
  • Make sure the face mask you make fits the face thoroughly and that there are no gaps on the sides.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly before wearing the face mask.
  • Switch to another fresh one if the face mask becomes damp or humid.
  • NEVER reuse the face masks after a single use without cleaning it.
  • DO NOT share the face mask with anyone.

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On A Final Note...

Please be sensitive and aware at a time like this. Always wash your hands before and after taking off the mask and never discard it casually. Also, the mask needs to still cover your nose and mouth at all times. Frequently pulling it down, so it stays around your throat or wearing it on your forehead in between defeats the whole purpose.

In another news, the Oxford Covid-19 vaccine to be called Covishield in India, where the trials are expected to begin by August-end. The vaccine will cost less than 1,000 INR per dose. If the trials generate positive results, the vaccine will be launched by November 2020.

Read more about: n95 covid coronavirus masks
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