With the number of Coronavirus (known as COVID-19) fatalities rising across the world, many people are wearing face masks to try and prevent infection. Yet, just how effective are face masks in stopping Coronavirus spreading? If you’re wondering whether it is worth wearing a face mask, here is some more information about face masks and the Coronavirus disease to help you decide.
How does the Coronavirus disease spread?
COVID-19 is an airborne virus, spread through infected water droplets. So, if someone with the infection coughs or sneezes, infected droplets travel from that person to another. Droplets are directly inhaled, or they can land on surfaces which if touched by someone else, infects that person. Wearing a face mask can prevent droplets from hitting your face and mouth.
Can wearing a face mask stop me catching Coronavirus?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the leading public health institute in the United States, has stated that wearing a face mask is unlikely to be completely effective against catching the virus. Wearing a face mask could even be counterproductive. That’s because the outside of the material can collect infected droplets which make for a concentrated infected area. If the wearer touches the contaminated material, the virus can quickly spread to the wearer. Infected water droplets can also enter the eyes or just as easily land on other parts of clothing and skin even if a mask is worn.
If wearing a mask isn’t that effective, why are so many wearing them?
Although wearing a mask on its own is probably not enough against contracting Coronavirus, mask-wearing can have other benefits. It can give a feeling of security and more control and, as such, be mentally beneficial. It’s why, given a choice, many people still prefer to wear a face mask. In a place like China, where the virus is so prevalent, it is advisable to wear a mask since they’re protecting other people from getting the illness as much as protecting the wearer.
How should I use a face mask?
You must know how to wear a face mask properly and, especially, how to dispose of it correctly. You need to find a face mask that completely covers your nose, mouth, and as much of your lower face as possible. Make sure there are no gaps between the face and mask. It’s not comfortable to wear a face mask and, as such, it’s tempting to try to readjust the cover, and in doing so touch your face, which leads to infection. There are different types of masks you can buy. There is the conventional surgical type mask, which isn’t very effective as the virus can get around the sides of the cover. There is also a popular mask called the N95 respirator, which is more robust, although not foolproof.
Correct disposal of a face mask is vital
One major challenge with wearing a face mask is knowing how to dispose of it correctly. When removing the face mask, do not touch the front and carefully remove it from behind. Dispose of it immediately in a secure, closed bin. Once you dispose of the face mask, thoroughly clean your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand gel.
Apart from wearing a mask, how else can I prevent Coronavirus infection?
Measures to limit the chances of contracting COVID-19 include:
• Avoid physical contact with other people such as shaking hands
• Don’t stand too close to other people. It’s thought the virus can’t travel more than a meter in still air
• Avoid large crowds and busy places
• Avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes with your hands
• Above all, regularly wash your hands thoroughly, for at least twenty seconds, with soap and water or else use a sanitiser gel
These measures can be just as effective, if not more effective, as wearing a mask.