Can Face Masks Protect You From COVID-19? What Types, When, And How To Use a Mask?

coronavirus mask

On 11 March 2020, WHO declared the COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus Disease) outbreak as a pandemic and reiterated the call for countries to take immediate action to stop spreading the virus. 

The number of coronavirus infected people are increasing day by day. As of 06 April, the total number of COVID 19 cases is 1,274,335, and the death toll rises to 69,475. (figures are taken from Worldometer)

Due to the rapid increment of cases, the world is facing a shortage of medical supplies such as masks, sanitizers, and medical equipment. WHO advises everyone to use masks, but are they really useful? What type of mask actually protects from COVID-19? Read this blog to get all the information.

Coronavirus Mask Type

There are many types of masks for coronavirus that are available in the market. But the most common questions are what are the different kinds of masks available in the market? Which face does mask keep the coronavirus at bay? 

There are basically two types of masks: Surgical Masks and Respirators masks. Let’s know about them one by one: 

Surgical Masks

coronavirus mask

source: ahgmbh.com

A surgical mask, also known as a “medical mask or procedure mask.” It is a loose-fitting, disposable device that creates a barrier between nose & mouth and the potential contaminants in the existing surroundings. It is available in the pharmacy stores, and it is also used to protect against infectious agents transmitted by “droplets.” (These droplets can be droplets of saliva or secretions from the upper respiratory tract when the wearer exhales)

But a surgical face mask does not guard against “airborne” infectious agents. So it will not prevent the wearer from being potentially contaminated by a virus such as COVID-19

Respirators

coronavirus mask

source: amazon.ca

A respirator is respiratory protective equipment that prevents the wearer from inhaling aerosols such as dust, smoke, mist, and other health hazards gases or vapors such as disinfectants, anesthetic gases. It is a close facial fit mask that has very efficient filtration of airborne particles or infections such as SARS, H1N1, COVID-19, etc.   

Which Face Mask is Best?

Now, which mask is useful to avoid coronavirus? Find out by looking at the comparison table of both type of masks: 

Surgical MasksRespirators
  • Cleared by FDA*
  • Tested by NIOSH*
  • Disposable 
  • Some can be reused
  • Do not fit tightly to the face
  • Secured tightly to the face
  • It Prevents large particles expelled by the wearer, such as spit, from entering the atmosphere.
  • Filter particles from the air & reduce the number of particles or germs the wearer breathes in

* FDA: Food and Drug Administration

NIOSH: National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety

How to Wear a Mask?

coronavirus mask

source: deccanherald.com

Now, you know what are the various coronavirus mask types?. It’s time to learn how to wear a mask? Below are some guideline, read and follow them carefully:

  • Always wash your hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub before putting on a mask.
  • Cover your mouth & nose with the mask as there were no gaps between your face and the mask.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it; if you do, then clean your hands again with soap or alcohol-based hand rub. 
  • Never reuse single-use masks. Replace it with a new one used as soon as it gets moist.

How to remove mask: Always remove it from behind, never touch the front of the mask. After removing the cover, discard immediately in a closed bin and wash your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.

Also Read: 18 Misconceptions Around Coronavirus: Know Myths And Facts About The Same

When to Use a Mask?

After reading up to here, now you know what are the different types of masks and how to wear a mask properly and also how to remove it, right? Now, let’s talk about when to use a mask? Is it good to use a mask during quarantine?

So, According to WHO,

  • Always wear a mask if you’re coughing or sneezing.
  • You should know how to wear a mask and how to dispose of it properly.
  • Masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
  • If you are healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with the suspected COVID-19.

WHO advises rational use of medical masks to avoid unnecessary wastage of precious resources and misuse of masks. Use a mask only if you have respiratory symptoms (coughing or sneezing), have a suspected COVID-19 infection with mild symptoms, or are caring for someone with suspected COVID-19 infection. A suspected COVID-19 infection is linked to travel in areas where cases have been reported or close contact with someone who has traveled in these areas and has become ill.”

coronavirus mask

source: cnbc.com

Other Effective Ways to Prevent COVID-19

So, what are the other ways besides using a face mask to prevent coronavirus? Below are some effective ways to avoid this epidemic:

  1. Cleaning your hands: Frequently wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  2. Being conscious of your face: Only touch your mouth or face with clean hands. 
  3. Wear Mask: A contagious patient should always wear a surgical mask as soon as contagion is suspected. 
  4. Social Distancing: Avoid interacting with people who are sick and stay at home & avoid going to public places.

Wearing a surgical mask won’t protect you from contracting Coronavirus. However, it can help you to stop spreading the virus to other people. As till now, there is no specific vaccine available to fight the pandemic Coronavirus. So, until then, it is best for us to take precautions and do the above following things to remain safe. Also, stay in your homes in the quarantine period. 

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