Since the COVID pandemic has began to take on country after another, we can’t help but fall prey to the gravity of this situation. After having more than 12 lakh cases and 69 thousand deaths by contraction of this virus, there is a lot of necessary attention being diverted towards the protection of the healthier people, who are still not affected by this virus and also, for prevention of further spread of this disease. According to the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, staying at home and practicing social distancing is by far the best way to prevent the spread of the virus as most of the countries, including India, are in the stage where the virus is spread by community contact.
Based on a current report by the CDC, it was also advised to the people that citizens should wear masks, the non medical ones so as to further prevent its spread. The use of the masks, although, is based on voluntary compliance and maintaining social distance, especially 6 foot difference is still considered to be the most effective way to prevent spread.
Types of Face Masks
The main two main types of face masks that are used for prevention of spread of the virus are surgical masks and the N 95 respirator mask. Surgical masks can have different designs, but its basic structure remains the same. These masks are usually disposable and are used to cover the nose, mouth and chin. They are used majorly for protecting the wearer from particle droplets or splashes, or anything that can be transmitted directly through the mouth or the nose. It also conceals the spread of particles or secretions from the wearer, if they are potentially infectious or are vectors of the virus. It is very simple in its built and can be tied easily behind the head or be looped over the ears.
The other type of commonly used mask is the N 95 respirator mask, which is more structured and fits tightly. Other than blocking out splashes, secretions or particles, this mask also filters out about 95 per cent of harmful microbes and particles from the air. It has elastic bands so that the mask holds firmly on to your face. Some such masks also have an exhalation valve, an attachment to help with breathing and also if there is a build up of heat and humidity.
Importance of DIY Masks during Coronavirus
As there has been major market wipe out in terms of daily essentials, medicines and other such necessities, several people have responded to this by deciding to make DIY Masks at their home using materials such as scarves or pillowcases. Although they come in handy and were convenient to make, use and store, these homemade masks often provide lot less protection when put in comparison to the surgical masks or the respirators. The CDC had advised that in situations or cases where you do not have access to surgical masks, people can make do with their homemade masks, as a last resort.
Since this virus spreads mainly through respiratory droplets, wearing a mask seems like a good idea in order to block out the small particles and droplets suspended in the air after someone sneezes or coughs.
The World Health Organization had advised the general public about when and how to use a mask and it was as follows:
When to Use a Mask:
- If you are fit and relatively healthier, then you must only wear a mask when you are dealing with or taking care of a person who has contracted COVID 19 infection or has been suspected with contraction.
- One should wear a mask most importantly when they are sneezing or coughing or have a sore throat.
- The effectiveness of wearing masks is valid more efficiently when it is combined with washing hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer at regular intervals.
- Also, another important factor here is the disposal of masks. After buying or making a mask, one must really take care about how they use the mask and how they dispose of it after usage.
How to Use the Mask Properly:
- Before using the mask or before putting it one, make sure that you wash hands properly with soap and water or with an alcohol based hand sanitizer.
- After you have put on the mask, make sure it fits well and that there are no open gaps in between the mask and your face.
- In case the mask gets damp or spoiled, replace it immediately with a fresh one. Make sure you do not reuse masks that are meant only for single time use.
- Try to avoid touching the mask directly. In case you do, clean your hands with soap or a sanitizer thoroughly.
- While removing the mask, do not touch the front of the mask and take it off from behind. Discard the used mask properly in a covered bin and wash your hands again after removing the mask.
These were important factors that any person must keep in mind before using a medical mask, or even a homemade one. However, wearing a mask is to be considered as a last resort. The most important way to prevent the spread of this virus is still by practicing social distancing and by staying at home. A mask does not ensure full protection from particles or suspensions present in the air that might enter our respiratory systems and we definitely do not want to take that risk.
It is essential for all of us to follow this lockdown and even if we go out to buy important groceries or supplies or medicines, make sure that you are standing at least 6 feet away from the next person and avoid touching any surface or objects until absolutely necessary, even if you go out, especially until there are other orders. It is extremely important that every citizen abides by these guidelines and follows the set precaution measures to stay united and fight against this global pandemic.