The spread of the Coronavirus is perhaps the worst epidemic in this decade, but even worse is the misinformation that comes with it. When dealing with an epidemic of such magnitude, misinformation can be just as dangerous as the main problem. Let’s set the record straight by answering the question of the effectiveness of the face masks in preventing the spread of the virus.
The rush to buy masks is probably based on the idea that masks can protect against COVID-19. President Trump recently sought to allay fears of a shortage of Coronavirus masks by announcing that the government had procured over 43 million masks with plans to get even more. But the reality is wearing the mask is no guarantee that you won’t get sick. Masks capture droplets from the sneeze or cough of an infected person. Droplets are the main route of transmission of Coronavirus, and so masks do a pretty good job of safeguarding the wearer. However, they are still not 100% effective because the virus can still be spread through eyes. It has also emerged that aerosols, which are tiny particles of the virus, can still penetrate through the mask.
Most of the commonly used masks are actually surgical type masks, and evidence suggests that these types of masks cannot prevent the spread of respiratory viruses. The mask that is recommended for preventing Coronavirus is the N95 respiratory. The N95 respirator is the mask that is used by health works who are taking care of infected persons. The mask is not recommended for healthy individuals, but those who are sick are encouraged to wear it to prevent the transmission of the virus.
Advice from WHO on wearing Coronavirus masks
The World Health Organization has released a document aimed at correcting the myths about Coronavirus masks. Here is the gist of it.
• Healthy people do not need to wear masks
• Medics and everyone else taking care of persons suspected to have the Coronavirus should always wear the masks while attending to the patients
• Wearing masks alone is not sufficient – you must also wash your hands frequently with soap and water or sanitize them frequently with an alcohol-based sanitizer.
• Those wearing masks must know the correct way to wear the mask as well as the correct disposal method.
• Replace your mask with a clean one as soon as it gets damp and do not reuse the masks
• When removing the mask, pull it from behind and avoid touching the front of the mask and then discard it immediately in a closed bin.
it is also worth noting that Coronavirus is not a death sentence. Even though there have been deaths, the number of people who recovered is actually much higher than those who succumbed. It is, therefore, important to stay calm and seek medical attention if you start exhibiting flu-like symptoms.
In summary, N95 respiratory masks can help to reduce the spread of the virus. However, other precautionary measures must also be adhered to because masks are not 100% effective. In addition to wearing the mask, washing and sanitizing of hands should be done as frequently as possible.