The mechanics of the protective face masks! Who should wear it?
- With the advent of the coronavirus pandemic, the demand for protective face masks has risen!
- But despite that, people are still confused about whether they should wear the masks, their usefulness, and the kind of mask needed.
So let us try to find out the answers to all these queries.
Use of protective face masks-the two-way advantages
Protective face masks are used to not only protect the wearer but also prevent infection from going from a wearer to the people around.
But protecting the wearer of the mask is difficult. Because in order to protect, the mask should be medical-grade respirator masks with a proper fit and needs proper care while putting on and removing it. But it definitely has a role to prevent the spread of infection from the wearer to others around.
This is vital for society to curb the transmission of the virus. This helps greatly in decreasing viral spread and deaths due to it. And this transmission from the source is easy and beneficial and can be done with a simple cloth mask.
Masks and their role in the prevention of the spread
The deadly virus spreads by droplets and originates from the mouth and nose of the infected person. A fraction of these droplets evaporate and what remains are tiny particles that can remain afloat in the air and infect other people around easily.
And therefore, the masks are useful for doctors and nurses who are surrounded by sick people and work in unhealthy conditions and air.
Additionally, doctors have to intubate sick patients. Hence they are more likely to be exposed to the infected droplets from the patient’s secretions.
Hence they are indeed personal protective equipment or PPE. Therefore these masks are to protect the health workers from ingress.
Prevention of Egress
The other way around is the prevention of egress from patients to those around them. It is also called source control. In this, the wearer is the source of the droplets and has to wear a mask to prevent the person-to-person spread of the virus. And the confusion arises because not many articles differentiate or talk about ingress and egress.
Various experiments have revealed that even a simple cotton mask can decrease the droplet and virus spread by 99%.
Therefore the benefit is dual; the people around have lesser chances of getting infected and even if infected, the number of viral load being less they will have milder disease.
But one important point here is that in coronavirus infection, people can infect others even when they have no symptoms of the disease.
Studies have revealed that nearly half of the infections are from people who themselves have no symptoms. And many of these spreaders are those who may not have any symptoms at all.
Therefore, everyone must wear masks to prevent transmission to others around them. The dictum would be:
My mask protects you; your masks protect me.
Our aim is to get the reproduction rate below 1 and this can be accomplished if 80% of people wear masks that are at least 60% effective. A cloth mask can serve the purpose. Mask use with social distancing is more powerful.
Source: The Atlantic