The world is still experiencing the staggering effects of the COVID-19 infection. For the last four months, countries all over the world have been having a rough time managing the crisis that has come about from the rising cases of infections and deaths
The World Health Organization has since delivered a set of proposed directives which if followed by the global population can be essential in the prevention of the spread of the coronavirus. One of the directives issued was the constant wearing of masks. More information has been brought to light as more discoveries are being made concerning the virus. Many governments, from national to the state are all taking measures they think are appropriate; with some making the wearing of masks mandatory, like Texas and some making it optional, like most countries that are not as adversely affected. There have been raging debates on the usage, the importance and even the types to wear. So, for anyone asking, are masks really necessary in the prevention of the coronavirus? Let us indulge.
Different types of masks available
For the longest time, masks have been restricted to use in the medical field, in hospitals, care homes and in use by people using chemicals. However, due to the high infection potential of the coronavirus, masks have been recommended by some experts as important to prevent the general public from further infections.
There are various types of masks with the most prominent being either the medical or the homemade masks.
The medical masks include the surgical masks and the N95s. The N95s are tight masks that filter small particles from the air and the surgical masks are the loose-fitting pieces that protect from large particles like splashes or spills that may carry viruses or bacteria. The latter does not offer much as protection in case of a sneeze of a cough While a valid option for high-level infection zones like the epicenters, it is recommended that these masks be preserved for the medical staff who are always in close contact with those infected. This will help them proceed with their work more efficiently at lower risks.
Homemade masks are not as efficient in germ protection but will come in handy in preventing face touching. The masks can be made from various materials like scarves, torn clothes, bandanas, and other fabrics. Their efficiency level is yet to be determined as the various types of fabrics make it hard to make conclusive determinations. Experts warn people from taking the mask as a recommended PPE. As the level of virus infection continues to scale up, many people are opting to wear masks, with some countries having it as a requirement before going out in public.
How a mask works
One of the main reasons why World Health Organization-WHO- recommends a mask is because it keeps the germs in. In a scenario where an infected person has on a mask, even when it is on the pre symptoms phase, and they go out into the public, they can reduce the risk of spread by 90% if they have a mask on. The masks work effectively to keep in the bacteria so that activities like talking, sneezing or coughing contain the virus. This goes a long way in protecting the general public and doubling down on the number of people being wheeled into medical facilities with COVID-19.
Masks may be important but they cannot work efficiently if the user does not frequently wash their hands or sanitize with an alcohol-based sanitizer.
Groups who must wear masks
There are certain groups of people who should use masks. First in line are the medical experts. This ranges from emergency response to nurses to doctors and surgeons. In fact, if you happen to visit a medical facility, a mask is downright mandatory. People who work in high traffic areas like supermarkets, stores, drive-ins, and others should also have masks to help them reduce the risk of infection from customers. The virus spreads highly in areas where contact is below the recommended 6 feet, so serving customers on essential services can qualify as one instance where masks are required.
In case you begin to exhibit corona like symptoms like fever, coughing or shortness of breath, you should wear a mask as soon as you notice the symptoms and visit a health facility as soon as possible.
Are they the masks necessary?
There are experts who argue that wearing of masks is not as essential and that people should take other measures more effectively. As mass mask usage has not been quantified to a serious percentage in terms of risk eradication, scientists argue that masks are giving people a false sense of security in terms of protection. If people keep thinking the masks are their shield, then they take other directives like social distancing and handwashing lightly, an action that will cause mass spreading of the coronavirus.
Panic buying of masks has seen the professional masks reduce drastically. Experts warn that while it may be good, panic buying will end up costing the medical field dearly. The medical field is at the forefront of the battle, meaning they are most prone to infection. When the general public reduced the stock, the medical field faces a reduced stock. This causes a shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) which then puts the health workers at great risk.
In conclusion, wearing a mask would not hurt anyone and while they may prevent infection in public areas, it is only useful if it is coupled with other measures like frequent sanitization and the maintaining social distancing. Studies show that the virus cannot travel far on air, so a mask is efficient if you stay away from people. Remember that up to 25% of people who spread the virus are symptomatic. There should be more research to indulge the issue so that questions can be better answered. Meanwhile, people should consider keeping the recommended distance, avoiding crowds, washing hands frequently and staying at home.