Face Masks are key now in the fight against COVID-19

by Pronobesh Banerjeee

“We now know from recent studies that a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms (“asymptomatic”) and that even those who eventually develop symptoms (“pre-symptomatic”) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms, “This means that the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity — for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing — even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms.”

Wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission,

It's a new position by citing several studies about the asymptomatic spread of the disease, the first of which was published on March 5 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

“It is becoming increasingly clear that all people should be wearing masks while out in public. Masks are a likely reason why the virus has been better controlled in China, South Korea, Japan, and other countries,

“Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders.

“Masks should be worn anytime you are in public or people are nearby. Masks act as a physical barrier to protect you and others from viral and bacterial particulates. Many people unknowingly infect others by going out and spreading germs by coughing or touching others,

“You can go out in public areas without a mask if there is no one nearby. Otherwise, regardless if it’s close quarters or spaced out, you should wear a mask with others around. This is precaution and courtesy to yourself and those nearby you.”

A cloth mask alone is unlikely to prevent you from inhaling microscopic virus particles.

“Wearing a mask is good for two reasons: It’s going to cut down 95 percent of the breathing that sends the virus up to 6 feet away in a room, and also will reduce fecal/oral transmission by preventing the virus from getting into your nose or mouth” if you touch a contaminated surface and then your face, “I think this will slow down the virus a lot.”

Cloth face masks aren’t respirators

N95 masks, which are worn by medical professionals who come into close contact with those with COVID-19, are actually respirators.

They form a tight seal over the nose and mouth and filter all air coming in or out.

Stay vigilant on other measures

Reports from Asia suggest that mask-wearing plays an important role in promoting a sense of community solidarity and collective effort in fighting diseases like coronavirus.

What wearing a mask won’t do, however, is take the place of other, more important COVID-19 prevention protocols, such as social distancing and handwashing.

“If you put on a mask and then go into a grocery store and touch everything, your risk is going to go up.

Just as important as wearing a mask is proper handling when using them, Hand hygiene in conjunction with “donning and doffing” masks is especially critical.

“Avoiding handling the cloth without washing your hands,” he said. “Be careful when taking it off to handle the mask by the bands, not the cloth.”

Cloth masks should be washed daily or after every extended use.

“Wash it with a detergent containing bleach or a bleach-like ingredient, dry it, and it is good to go.

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