The year 2020 has generally been a tough year; the woes are not over yet! There is a global pandemic due to the Wuhan-originated Coronavirus (COVID – 19), and the world continues to bear the brunt of the virus. Until a vaccine is found, life is not going to be normal.
Social distancing has become the new norm; wearing masks is highly advised. But, do wearing masks offer protection against Coronavirus? Read on to know.
Like to watch a quick story on masking up? Click here.
Wearing Masks Was Discouraged During Early Stages – Why?
When the coronavirus started spreading, there were some reasons why using surgical masks as protection from the virus was not recommended.
- Surgical masks were not available in the quantities that would be required to be worn universally
- If the surgical masks are in short-supply, frontline workers would be affected, who need it all the more
- The efficacy of such masks in filtering out the virus was not known
- People could possibly self-contaminate if they are not aware of the proper way to use masks
Thus, the potential risks related to mask usage appeared to outweigh the benefits.
However, as the pandemic progressed, without a cure or vaccine in sight, attention was turned to non-medical masks such as cloth masks. Cloth masks are made up of multiple layers of cloth, of varied set of materials and added with basic filters. Further, as these masks tend to be re-usable for at least upto 30 washes, it became a viable option.
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How Can Masks Help?
When everyone wears such masks it is observed it acts as a double barrier for the virus to spread. This means, when an infected person wears a mask, there is less chance of him/her giving it to others. Especially, if the person in question is asymptomatic and moves around extensively in public, wearing the mask would protect others significantly; because it is now known an infected person can transmit the virus even before starting to show symptoms.
On the other hand, in the scenario when a person is getting infected, if the person is wearing the mask during that time, the viral load entering the system tends to be lower resulting in milder form of the disease. This could be the reason behind those countries that made wearing a mask mandatory having lower death rates.
Thus, coupled with practicing social distancing and hand-hygiene, the outbreak can be potentially controlled to a large extent.
Using Masks Is The Best Option Until Vaccine/Cure
Hence, countries South Korea and Taiwan gave out surgical masks while Singapore and Japan distributed cloth masks to their populations earlier on and were able to get a handle on community spread.
Currently, more than 100 countries have made wearing masks in public spaces mandatory based on such compelling evidence.
So, to mask up or not to? We have a clear winner. It’s 2020!
Wear Masks and Be Safe!
Image from canva.com