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The rate at which coronavirus (COVID-19) cases are sky-rocketing is very concerning; countries all over the world are trying to fight against the pandemic that has infected 723,328 and caused 34,005 deaths globally.
To tackle this critical situation, the health authorities have asked everyone to stay in self-quarantine and to wear a face mask while venturing out of your homes to minimise the risk of spreading the disease. So, people are scrambling to get their hands on face masks to protect themselves and others from coronavirus.
Face masks offer protection against respiratory infections for health care workers and the general public and reduce the transmission in the community.
Types Of Face Masks
1. Surgical face masks
They are slightly loose-fitting, disposable masks which are approved by the Food and Drug Administration and mostly used in the health-care fraternity. Doctors, nurses and dentists wear them while treating patients.
Surgical masks prevent water droplets of bodily fluids that may contain virus or other germs from escaping through the mouth and nose, especially while coughing and sneezing .
2. Respirator masks
Respirators, also called N95 respirator masks are specially designed to protect the wearer from germs in the air, like viruses. It covers your face properly to prevent airborne viruses from entering through the nose or mouth and are much more effective at preventing the virus than regular face masks .
N95 masks are certified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
The name N95 comes from the fact that they can filter 95 per cent of airborne particles, as per the CDC. N95 masks are also worn when a person is painting or handling toxic materials.
What Do The Studies Say?
A study published in PLOS Pathogens shows that patients with flu, also called influenza, should wear face masks to lower the transmission to other patients and staff members. It limits the spreading of large droplet spray containing the virus .
Another 2016 study conducted in Japan among school children with seasonal influenza showed that wearing a mask provided 8.6 per cent protection .
A study published in the Influenza and other respiratory viruses found that N95 respirators provided protection against respiratory infections .
When To Use Face Masks?
As per the WHO recommendations, you should use a mask:
- If you are taking care of a person suspected or confirmed with COVID-19 infection.
- If you are coughing or sneezing.
- If you are a health-care worker attending to patients with respiratory illness.
- If you are going to visit the doctor.
How To Use Face Masks?
According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, here are the ways to wear a face mask:
- Unfold the pleats of the mask and ensure that they are facing down.
- Place the mask over your nose, mouth and chin and make sure that there are no gaps on either side of the mask. It should fit firmly.
- Avoid touching the mask while using it.
- Do not leave the mask hanging from the neck.
- Change the mask after six hours or as soon as they become wet.
- While removing the mask, do not touch the outer surface of the mask as it can be contaminated.
- Dispose of the used masks in close bins.
- After removal of the mask, clean your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser.
A face mask may offer added protection from contracting the virus. But, apart from that, you should maintain other precautionary measures too.