Protection against COVID-19 has gone through different stages. Initially, face masks were recommended by relevant bodies for the sick only. However, as time progresses, we learn more about this novel coronavirus. One of these is a change in the requirement for face masks.
The CDC now recommends that in public, especially in areas with a crowd or relatively dense population, where social distancing is difficult to maintain, everyone should use a face mask or covering.
What is A Face Mask?
Ideally, face masks are also known as surgical masks and are intended to be worn by health professionals to trap micro-organisms shed in liquid droplets and aerosols from the wearer’s mouth and nose while performing medical procedures.
Respirators, such as N95, FFP masks are more effective than surgical masks because they protect the wearer from inhaling airborne bacteria or virus particles.
Face coverings are made of cloth and other non-medical grade material to aid protection, especially when surgical masks and respirators are not readily available.
Given our current scenario, all options are commonly called ‘face masks,’ but it is important to know the difference.
How Does A Face Mask Work?
Face masks should cover the mouth and nose so that it can block the release of droplets containing the virus (such as Coronavirus) into the air when someone who has COVID-19 talks, sneezes or coughs.
For face coverings (cloth face masks,) there is no concrete evidence showing that it protects but, you should know that they are worn to protect other people around you. Wearing one is better than wearing nothing.
Masks are only effective when used in combination with regular hand cleaning with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.World Health Organization
What Is The Right Way To Use A Face Mask?
Prior to doing anything, it is important that you clean hands, by washing your hands with soap and water, for 40- 60 seconds, or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer before wearing a face mask.
This should be done so you do not contaminate the face mask before use.
How Often Should I Clean or Use My Face Masks?
Surgical masks are disposable and should be disposed of after one use.
N95/KN-95 respirator masks should ideally be disposed after one patient encounter or when damaged or stained. Some (according to the manufacturer’s recommendation) can be reused for a limited time. Overall, one-time use is the best.
Fabric masks, which are more readily available, are less effective but are better than wearing nothing. They should be cleaned and sanitized after one use.
What is the difference between Surgical Masks and N95/ KN-95 Respirators?
What Kind Of Material Should I Use To Make My Fabric Face Coverings?
The fabric to be used should be clean, breathable and flexible to use. The opaquer the fabric, the greater its protection ability.
Cotton is the preferable fabric, although other breathable material can be used.
It is important to note that children below two years should stay indoors and should not use a face mask.
The use of face masks in these times cannot be overemphasized. If we all kept to these rules, we could protect each other by slowing the transmission of the virus from one person to another.