Currently, wearing a medical mask is recommended as one of the measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus (2019-nCoV) new acute respiratory infections. However, before the situation of limited supply of medical masks, the wearing of masks is effective or not is what everyone always cares about.
What is the use of a mask?
Currently, because acute respiratory infections caused by new strains of corona virus (2019-nCoV) so medical masks, cloth masks, 3M masks, etc., are always "hunted" by people. There are 3 main types of mask:
- Preventing dust;
- Preventing chemicals, car exhaust;
- Preventing microorganisms.
However, preventing dust, chemicals or microorganisms depends on the type of mask. At the same time, with the current epidemic situation, masks are used to prevent droplets from other people getting into their nose and mouth.
How do you properly wear a face mask?
Your face mask should cover your face from the bridge of your nose to under your chin. It should be loose fitting but still secure enough to stay in place. Make sure you can talk with your mask on and that it doesn’t irritate you, so you are not tempted to touch it or pull it out of place, which could put you at risk from touching your face or limit its effectiveness.
Can a face mask prevent coronavirus from spreading?
Face masks help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Because it’s possible to have coronavirus without showing symptoms, it is best to wear a face covering even if you think you are healthy. A mask helps contain small droplets that come out of your mouth and/or nose when you talk, sneeze or cough. If you have COVID-19 and are not showing symptoms, a face mask reduces your chance of spreading the infection to others. If you are healthy, a mask may protect you from larger droplets from people around you.
1. Masks for the Public
According to the CDC, recent studies indicate a significant portion of people who have COVID-19 don’t show symptoms, and the virus can spread before they realize they are sick. This research — combined with the fact that the coronavirus can spread through close proximity to others, often by speaking, coughing or sneezing — led to their recommendation for the general public to wear cloth face masks in public, especially in situations where physical distancing may be difficult, such as grocery stores or on public transportation, and in areas where there is a significant amount of community transmission.
2. Masks for COVID-19 Patients and Their Caregivers
In order to protect from the spread of droplets, a surgical or cloth mask should be worn in a home setting by those with COVID-19 when they are around others. If the person who is ill is unable to wear a face mask, their caregiver should wear one. Patients being treated in hospital settings will follow hospital guidelines.
3. Masks and Other Protective Equipment for Health Care Workers
3.1 Health care workers testing and treating patients for COVID-19:
Anyone interacting directly with people ill or suspected to be ill with COVID-19 need professional respirators, such as N95 masks, which are designed for medical use. N95 masks fit the face snugly and filter the air to stop respiratory droplets from getting through or around the device. In addition, our care teams treating patients with COVID-19 wear added protective gear, including face shields that protect the eyes, nose and mouth from contamination from respiratory droplets, along with masks or respirators.
3.2 Health care workers in patient areas, but not working directly with COVID-19 patients:
Procedural, surgical and cloth face masks are being used to help guard against the possible spread of COVID-19. These masks don’t have a tight seal and are made of different types of materials. Similar to influenza and other respiratory viruses, the virus that causes COVID-19 appears to be transmitted primarily through large respiratory droplets. Surgical or procedural masks provide protection against respiratory droplet spread. While cloth masks are not medical-grade, they may be helpful in non-patient settings to contain coughs and to remind people to not touch their face, but they are not suitable for providing medical care to patients.
What are the different types of masks
1. Professional Respirators
Called N95 masks, these medical devices are made to prevent exposure to tiny droplets that can remain suspended in the air. Health care workers who wear them undergo a fit-test to find the right make, model and size to ensure a tight seal. The N95 masks are currently in very short supply and should be reserved for health care providers and first responders.
2. Procedural and Surgical Masks
These are loose-fitting masks designed to cover the mouth and nose. Although they are not close fitting, blue, disposable masks are fluid resistant and provide some protection against larger respiratory droplets from coughs and sneezes. Primarily, they prevent the wearer from spreading infectious droplets to others. Like N95 masks, these masks are used by health care workers whose safety depends on an adequate supply. They cannot be washed.
3. Cloth or Paper Masks
According to the CDC, these masks may help slow the spread of COVID-19, and help keep people who may unknowingly have the virus from transmitting it to others.
Can I make my own cloth mask?
Yes: Some people are making masks out of cotton or linen or even t-shirts or bandanas. There are several patterns available, including this one from Johns Hopkins Medicine and another for child size masks, for use in non-patient care settings. Cloth masks can and should be washed daily.
What items in my closet can I use to create a face covering or mask?
- Bandannas, scarves, hand towels, or any items made of cotton or linen are a good place to start;
- Thicker, more densely woven cotton fabrics are best, such as quilting cotton or cotton sheets;
- Stretchy knits aren’t ideal;
- Hold the fabric up to the light: The fewer tiny holes you can see, the better it will work to filter droplets;
- Overall, making a good mask involves finding a balance: You want fabric that doesn’t allow droplets to pass through while ensuring you can still breathe properly with your mask in place.
What should I be looking for when buying a mask?
Look for masks made with at least 2 layers of fabric. It should cover your nose and mouth without large gaps. The mask should have ear loops or ties so you can adjust it. For people who wear glasses, look for a mask with a bendable border at the top so you can mold the mask to fit the bridge of your nose and prevent your glasses from fogging. Professional masks should be reserved for health care workers on the front lines caring for patients.
Remember the best protections
In times of a pandemic, it’s understandable to want to do everything possible to protect yourself from becoming ill. While wearing a face mask will prevent you from spreading COVID-19 if you have it and don’t know it, physical distancing and frequent, thorough handwashing are still the best ways to avoid getting COVID-19.