How effective are masks against COVID-19? Expert answers
Gurugram: Since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, wearing a face cover and mask have been advised by health experts across the globe to slow the spread of Covid-19. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the use of mask limits the spread of Covid-19 which can be used either for protection of healthy persons (worn to protect oneself when in contact with an infected individual) or for source control (worn by an infected individual to prevent onward transmission).
In India, along with regular hand-washing and six feet physical distancing from people, the use of face cover and mask have been made mandatory for all in the public places as it is the most doable and cost-effective measure to prevent the transmission of disease.
However, there is a lot of misinformation flooded on various social media platforms about the wearing of mask or face cover during the coronavirus pandemic. So, CitySpidey reached out to Dr Piyush Goel, Senior- Pulmonologist, Columbia Asia Hospital, Gurugram to clear many myths and explain the importance of wearing a mask in containing the novel coronavirus.
Question: How does the mask or face cover prevent the spread of COVID-19?
Answer: The coronavirus transmits through droplets when an infected or asymptomatic person talks, coughs or sneezes. Masks or face covers prevent the droplets released by a symptomatic or asymptomatic patient of COVID-19 and thus save one from infection.
Question: With various options available in the market, which mask or face cover should be used to keep the disease at bay?
Answer: One can choose N95 masks which are costlier, but unless you are nursing patients or yourself in isolation, a surgical mask or 3-ply cloth mask is enough.
Question: What are the precautions to be taken while wearing a mask? What are the best ways to use a mask?
Answer: Using a clean mask is important. Discard the surgical masks after using them for 7-8 hours. For the cloth masks, wash them after every use.
Question: With the change in weather conditions, will wearing a mask could have a bad effect on health?
Answer: Using an N95 mask may make you feel more suffocating. That is why surgical masks or cloth masks are prescribed which are lighter.
Question: There is emerging evidence of airborne transmission of COVID-19 disease, so how significant is the role of mask or face cover in preventing the disease?
Answer: There is a substantial amount of confusion as to whether COVID-19 is an airborne virus. Evidence shows it transmits in droplets which can be airborne for a very short distance, which is why social distancing measures have been advised and should be implemented. A place with considerable air pollution may increase the chances of spread – the particulate matters, which constitute a substantial part of the air pollution, may act as a carrier of the droplets.