With the COVID-19 pandemic, the wearing of face masks has become a norm. Masks are said to reduce the number of pathogens people inhale, and they also help stop asymptomatic carriers from spreading the coronavirus.
But can wearing a face mask really protect us from COVID-19? How often should you wear a face mask and what’s the proper way of wearing it? Here’s what you need to know.
The coronavirus is thought to be transmitted through respiratory droplets that are released when people cough, sneeze or talk. These small particles can be suspended and moved in the air. If these droplets landed in our nose or mouth or got inhaled into the lungs, we can contract the virus.
Wearing a mask creates a physical barrier that captures the droplets. It prevents them from spreading as far into the surrounding air, thereby reducing the risk of contracting the virus. Therefore, face masks do work. They can help protect you and those around you.
Several scientific studies also provide evidence with regard to the effectiveness of mask-wearing. An observational study investigated the reduction of secondary transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in Beijing households with the use of face masks. SARS-CoV-2 is the respiratory virus causing COVID-19. Results showed that face masks were 79% effective in preventing transmission.
Another study, a systematic review sponsored by the World Health Organization, examined physical distancing, eye protection and face masks to prevent person-to-person transmission of SARS-CoV-2. They found that the use of face masks could largely reduce the risk of infection.
The efficacy of mask-wearing at reducing the spread of SARS-CoV-2 is at its highest when compliance is high.
In Australia, the use of face masks is mandatory for those in health care and passenger transport services, high-risk settings, aeroplanes and airports, people in quarantine, personal care and indoor public places. For childhood education services, it’s required as policy. It’s also strongly recommended to wear protective masks in indoor workplaces and adult learning environments.
If there’s a low community transmission of COVID-19, wearing of face masks in the community when you are well is not generally recommended. However, if there’s a very high or significant community transmission, then you may be required, or you may choose to wear a mask. Covering the face with protective masks is also a must when you have COVID-19 symptoms or when it’s difficult to maintain physical distance, for example on public transport.
Wearing face masks in public can help prevent the spread of COVID-19, but only if worn properly. The effectiveness of these protective masks can be improved when they are well fitted to the contours of your face. To wear a face mask correctly, here’s what you should follow.
Before you put a mask on, wash your hands with soap and water, or with a sanitiser that’s made up of 60% alcohol. Fit your face mask securely around your face, covering both your mouth and nose areas at all times. The mask should fit snugly under your chin, over the bridge of your nose and against the sides of your face. It should also be snug and secured by ear loops or with ties at the back of your head. When putting on and taking off your mask, you should also make sure to touch only the bands or ties.
Here are a few more tips to get the maximum protection for yourself and others while wearing protective masks.
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Dexcon is a leading PPE solutions, consulting and procurement company in Australasia. We supply premium medical devices and personal protection products for the medical, industrial and retail sectors both in Australia and around the world. With our extensive network of industry contacts, manufacturers and wholesale distributors globally, we guarantee the best price and high quality of products for our clients and their network.
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