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COVID-19: Why You Should Wear A Mask At Home Too; Especially If You Have Older Adults At Home

Amidst the rampant surge in the second wave of coronavirus in the country, the Central government has issued a statement directing citizens to wear a mask even at home and refrain from inviting guests into their homes.

The statement was issued under the guidance of Dr V K Paul, the head of India's Covid-19 task force. The recommendation comes as India reported a record 352,991 new cases on Monday and 2,812 deaths in the last 24 hours. Read to know Why You Should Wear A Mask At Home.

Why Have The Health Authorities Recommended Wearing Mask At Home?

The sole purpose of this recommendation is to break the chain of transmission. A study by the Department of Community Medicine has revealed that up to 56 per cent of infected persons contracted the virus from their family members, last year. So, let's break down the reasons behind using masks at home and if it can help curb the transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

  • Covid-19 primarily spread from person to person through respiratory droplets that travel in the air when someone coughs, sneezes, talks, shout, or sings [1].
  • The droplets in the air can land in the mouths or noses of people in the vicinity or may be breathed in.
  • The risk of transmission is high when there is a distance of 6 feet between two persons and when both of them are wearing masks [2].
  • Asymptomatic people can continue to spread the infection when they are talking, at home, at a faster pace [3].
  • Asymptomatic can spread the infection, one of the major reasons attributed to reports of entire families testing positive, even when most of them have stayed indoors.
  • Masks are intended to protect others from Covid-19 and not just the wearer [4].
  • By masking at home, the elderly and those with co-morbidities can be protected, even if one member of the family has an asymptomatic infection [5].
  • This can help reduce the local house outbreaks that have marked the second wave [6].

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What Are The Levels Of Risk Of Not Using A Mask?

According to study findings [7]:

  • the risk is 1.5 per cent (low) when both people are wearing masks,
  • 5 per cent (medium) when only the infected person is wearing a mask and uninfected persons are unmasked,
  • 30 per cent (high) if the infected person is not wearing a mask, but the uninfected person is wearing one,
  • and 90 per cent (highest) when neither the infected nor the uninfected person is wearing a mask.

Several Global Studies Advise Mask Use At Home

Health experts and scientists from all over the globe have been and still are studying the efficacy of using masks. They have stated that "The findings inform universal face mask use and social distancing, not just in public spaces, but inside the household with members at risk of getting infected."

The study added, "This further supports universal face mask use, and provides guidance on risk reduction for families living with someone in quarantine or isolation, and families of health workers, who may face ongoing risk" [8].

Other studies have found that if no physical distancing measures are followed, one person can infect 406 people in 30 days. However, if the physical exposure is reduced by 50 per cent, then one person can infect around 15 people during the period. And, if physical exposure is reduced by 75 per cent, then one person can infect around 2.5 people in 30 days.

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On A Final Note...

Stressing on the need for vaccination and observing COVID-19 appropriate behaviours, the government advised that it is time people start wearing masks inside their homes and avoid stepping out of your home unnecessarily.