Can Face masks prevent the spread of the virus?
The main advantage of covering your mouth and nose is that you protect other people. Although there is still much more to be learned with regards to the novel coronavirus, it seems that a number of infected people are shedding the virus through sneezes, coughs, and other respiratory droplets. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, those who have the virus, up to 25% may never feel symptoms but may still transmit it.
That is why wearing a face mask can be a great idea even though you do not feel sick.
In case you sneeze or cough, the mask can hold the respiratory droplets so they do not land on surfaces or other people. Hence, it will not protect you, yet it is going to protect those surrounding you. Suppose your neighbour is wearing a mask and the same thing takes place, they are going to protect you similarly. Thus, the face masks, when worn appropriately, possess the potential to benefit people.
N95 respirators are the best masks; however, the general public is advised not to use these face masks since they are severely required by health care workers at present. If you have those masks, consider donating them instantly to a hospital. The Same thing is true for surgical face masks, which give less safety but are useful and in short supply.
If I am wearing a mask and someone infected sneezes on me, would the mask provide some safety?
Yes, but only if you wear the mask appropriately and do not touch it with your hands later on.
The droplets from a sneeze or cough would land on your face mask rather than your nose or mouth. But the next essential step is to remove the mask by the ear bands and either discard or wash it, that too without touching the front side of it.
The masks fail when people do not use them properly. Many times, they touch the front side of it and adjust it. They also push it down one way or another to get their nose stuck out.
When you touch the front side of the face mask, whatever that person sneezed or coughed on it is on your hands now.
You need to take off your mask by removing the straps or elastics from behind your ears. Do not touch the front side of the mask and keep it away from your face.
One more thing: Preferably you would have eye safety, too, to keep that person’s sneeze from entering the eyes. Glasses and sunglasses are not perfect but they can assist to some extent.
What about homemade masks?
Some research has revealed that cotton T-shirt cloth and tea towels might assist in blocking respiratory droplets released from infected people, though it is not proven how much safety they offer.
A study conducted in Vietnam found that the use of cloth masks led to greater infection than those wearing surgical face masks.
It is not yet known precisely how impactful homemade masks are, but experts think they are a great idea.
How often should I wash it?
Experts recommend to wash a face mask after each use. Never remove this dirty mask, and put it in your purse to wear it again. It is supposed that once you wear it, it possibly either touches your sneezes, coughs, or the spray of your speech, or guards you from the coughs, spray, or speech of others. And now it is dirty, which needs to be either washed or discarded.
Hence, if you are wearing a cloth mask, keep it into the laundry basket instantly. In case it is disposable, throw it away immediately.
Never pull the face mask down to have a snack, and then pull it back up. This way, you have gotten whatever unclean stuff is on the mask on your hands and then into your mouth.
Is there one best face mask design available?
There is not much data till now on homemade masks, let alone data that tells how many folds to put on your home-made version.
Experts recommend the best material to utilize is tight-weave cotton. They say, “Do not use polyester or synthetic cloth,” as they have studied the ability of the virus to survive on different surfaces.
Experts recommend washing and drying the cloth two or three times before cutting it, so it does not shrink later on.
You can prepare a face mask out of a T-shirt, and no sewing machine is needed. You may try preparing one out of unused shop towels as well. The material you use does not matter much, but always try to make it fit closely to your face and never touch the front side of it once you start wearing it.
In case you wear cloth masks, prepare so many of them so you can use a fresh one each time you go outside.
Would a scarf work effectively?
Perhaps not as well as a face mask that fits properly and close to your face.
You can visualize if you wear a loosely knit scarf with loads of holes in it, it would not be very impactful.
The goal is to make a barrier that holds droplets and keeps other people’s droplets from coming in; therefore, you need coverage that is close-fitting and tightly woven.
Do face masks offer any other advantages?
Masks can work as an important visual cue as well.
These are a reminder that we should take these safety measures and also serve as a reminder to people to maintain a 6-foot distance. It should also be considered as a badge of honour. In case I am wearing a face mask in a public area, it shows I am concerned about you and all those surrounding me on the possibility that I am infectious. I wish to play my role in limiting how I might affect you. It can also provide the wearer with a welcome sense of security and safety. It always feels like you are behind a shield.
And for those surrounding you, it is a warning. It tells others: watch out, as there is a public health crisis presently. There is a virus going around, we should always be on top guard.
However, the face masks are not a substitute for all other steps we should take at this moment to guard ourselves from this deadly coronavirus, particularly social distancing as well as good hand hygiene.