Here’s All You Need To Know About Your Face Mask

Facemasks should be worn by infected persons to prevent spread of the virus in the first place as well as to protect those around them from catching the virus.

Currently, we find ourselves facing one of the greatest health emergencies with over 700,000 COVID-19 cases in the country. While an early lockdown may have helped us initially, the number of cases in the country have been growing ever since. As India slowly relaxes the lockdown, and as people gradually begin returning to their workplaces, going to parks, restaurants and shopping malls, and visiting places of worship, it is crucial that we take certain measures to protect ourselves and control the rate of infection. These are simple yet effective measures ranging from maintaining social distancing and good personal hygiene, to wearing facemasks in public. For the next few months, one aspect remains constant and common for all – the need for facemasks.

Do facemasks really work?

A new study from Cambridge University and Greenwich University in UK has revealed that the widespread adoption of facemasks could prevent the second and third waves of COVID-19 and allow the authorities to impose more lenient lockdown measures. It is also interesting to note that a number of Asian countries such as Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan, that have been largely successful in flattening the curve, have massively advocated the use of facemasks in public. In fact, a group of scientists from all over the world came together to issue an open letter last month, which recommended the use of facemasks in public.

Adding a layer of protection

When a person coughs or sneezes, a shower of tiny droplets, also known as aerosols is released in the air. However, when an infected person coughs or sneezes, these droplets, containing scores of the virus, either settle on nearby surfaces or transmit to people in close proximity. This is where a face mask comes in handy. By providing a layer of much needed protection, masks help in reducing virus transmission via aerosols, especially in crowded areas or in public. Facemasks should be worn by infected persons to prevent spread of the virus in the first place as well as to protect those around them from catching the virus. For general use, a two-layered cloth mask is ideally recommended. These layers work well to filter out airborne liquid droplets as well as dust particles.

Did you know?

  • The cloth used in two-layered cloth masks for professional use is hydrophobic i.e. water repellent, which prevents the mask from retaining any liquid droplets, body fluids
  • The material of professional use masks is coated with suitable chemicals that impart certain properties for better efficiency. Also, the material used is made to be flexible and well-fitting to effectively cover the nose and mouth from airborne pathogens
  • The material used is anti-static, thus averting the possibility of airborne dust particles clinging to the surface of the mask
  • Certain newly developed materials also have chemical coatings that provide anti-microbial properties
  • The cloth has anti-odor properties, to ensure freshness during prolonged use
  • Some coatings increase softness of the cloth which offers comfort to the wearer and reduces skin irritation
  • Special materials and their coatings provide durability, so that masks can be washed and reused at least 20-30 times

What else do you need to know about your facemask?

While wearing facemasks in public is a good start for ensuring safety, it does not guarantee 100% protection against pathogens. It is equally important to know how to wear them correctly, how to maintain them and how to effectively dispose of them. For instance, one must avoid touching their face, mouth and nose, even while wearing the mask as this could expose the wearer to pathogens. Similarly, the wearer should be mindful while taking the mask off & not touch the outer layer as it may be infected. For this reason, it is advisable to take the mask off only by using the strings. It is also important not to take the mask off at any point when in public, for example, while talking.

Even though facemasks may be difficult to get used to initially, it is up to the people to decide what they value more – a little discomfort or the safety of themselves and those around them. Our decision to normalize the adoption of face masks today, could go a long way in protecting each of us tomorrow.


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