A face mask is a protective covering device worn over nose and mouth to protect the wearer against dust, pollution and harmful airborne pathogens. Face masks also protects the passage of harmful pathogens from wearer to others in case the wearer is already infected. Now the question is why are facemasks so important in protection against COVID-19?
As we all know, COVID-19 virus spreads from one person to another through respiratory droplets. That is, when a person coughs or sneezes respiratory droplets containing harmful viral particles are released in the environment and these infected respiratory droplets can potentially infect other persons. Wearing surgical masks prevents dispersion of these harmful respiratory droplets in air. Jagmeet Singh, Professior of cardiology in Harvard Medical School, also stated “When people step out of their homes, they should consider others as possibly infected, and themselves as possible contagion. If they wear a mask, there is a two-way protection. They prevent the possibility of infecting others, and also protect themselves”. Using a face mask during pandemic reduces the chances of community transmission. If large number of people started using masks, there are chances of reducing the number of cases.
Surgical masks are part of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) kits and fit loosely against your mouth and nose. These masks shield the wearer against large droplets that come from sick person’s cough or sneeze. Loose fitting of the surgical masks may allow some tiny particles to pass through and they will not provide adequate protection in highly infected areas like COVID wards and COVID ICUs. Proper fitting N95 masks are recommended in case you planning to visit a possibly infected area.
Main aim of surgical face masks or any other face covering during this CVOID-19 pandemic is to break the chain of infection. Surgical masks are expected to play a vital role in preventing further spread of COVID-19. But it should always be kept in mind that surgical masks are no substitute for social distancing. Even after wearing a mask, you are at risk of catching this infection if you are standing too close to the infected person. Social distancing measures should always be kept in mind as some of the COVID-19 patients may be completely asymptomatic but they can still transmit the disease. It is also very important to avoid touching your eyes and face with your hands.
People don’t need to wear surgical mask when they are at home but you should always wear a face mask when you are moving out of your home for work or for buying essentials. Avoid crowded and possibly infected places even when you are wearing a surgical face mask. Proper disposal of used surgical masks is as important as their proper use. Always dispose off your used masks in bins marked for the same. In case you are disposing them at home, collect them in a plastic bag before putting them in your bin. Wash your hands properly after disposing your face mask.