Covid-19’s Airborne Spread: Choosing The Right Mask

LANCET published a study recently that just confirmed that the Novel Coronavirus is an airborne pathogen. The paper, written by six experts from the UK, the US and Canada, states that there are “insufficient grounds for concluding that a pathogen is not airborne” while “the totality of scientific evidence indicates otherwise”. Read the complete LANCET report here. 

The report also states that the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is higher indoors than outdoors and is substantially reduced by indoor ventilation. So what does this now mean? It now tells us that if an infectious virus is mainly airborne, an individual could potentially be infected when they inhale aerosols produced when an infected person exhales, speaks, shouts, sings, sneezes, or coughs, the experts said.

The Q is most people’s minds is- Is the mask you are using the right fit for you?

Here are some pointers you must remember:

  • The fabric of the mask isn’t that important. What matters is, that the mask is triple-layered– to offer sustainable protection from the virus, which single-layered masks cannot do.
  • The mask should completely cover your nose and mouth and should be tight and not have loose ends.
  • Choose fabrics that allow you to breathe and not feel suffocated like vinyl etc.
  • Do NOT choose masks with exhalation valves or vents- they do not offer any protection.
  • Do NOT touch the mask when wearing it. If you have to often touch/adjust your mask, it doesn’t fit you properly, and you may need to find a different mask or make adjustments.
  • Ensure that you wash your hands before and after taking off your mask, and only touch the ear-loops when removing.
  • KN95/ N95 masks are the most preferred masks that offer triple-layered protection as well as a correct fit- opt for those over cloth masks if you are heading out.
  • In the event of having to head out to crowded places where social distancing isn’t possible (which should be avoided in the first place), doctors are even suggesting people double up their cloth masks with a simple surgical mask or use two surgical masks for better protection. This wouldn’t be required if you are using an N95 mask.

But that said, wearing any mask and making that mandatory is more important than NOT wearing a mask at all. And with people’s ignorance or lack of awareness leading to situations where they use a mask, touching the outside, leading to more infections, it is essential that the Government and health agencies do their bit by guiding people about the right mask they must use.

Doctors and healthcare workers all over the country and world are resorting to social media to request people to stay aware and mask up. Here are some of the gut-wrenching posts that have become viral over this week.

 

 

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Go ahead, do your bit and spread the word. #MaskUpIndia. Stay safe.