The whole nation is currently fighting the coronavirus pandemic with all its might and strength. The number of infections seems to be on a steady rise despite the hard work and sustained efforts of state governments across the country, possibly the public too has to play a more active and important role in helping the government in its endeavours.
A more disciplined outlook to life, a more stringent adherence to social distancing, non-crowding, avoidance of public places and maintenance of personal hygiene and sanitation are key to our own contributions and support to what is being taken up by the state.
One of the most important responsibilities that we as citizens share is regarding the usage of masks whenever we go outside for our own and the safety of other fellow members of the society. It is our responsibility to choose the right mask from the wide range of options available in the market that serves the purpose of protecting ourselves and others from the coronavirus infection.
How should we choose the correct mask for ourselves, what are the criteria that make a mask effective or ineffective, what can the consequences of not choosing the right mask be on our health and that of people around us?
It is true that, the common understanding so far was that wearing a tightly fitting mask will save us from the coronavirus and also help us to stop it from spreading to other people if we happen to be asymptotic patients of coronavirus, but things seem to have changed as far as our knowledge and awareness of masks is concerned.
Health experts are reminding us that it is not enough to just wear any mask and unlike what popular perception tells us, valved masks are doing us harm and we should quit using them in times of the pandemic. N95 Masks or masks that have valves can only filter the air one has inhaled, it means that if someone who has been infected by the virus wears such a mask, they can potentially infect others. Moreover, research on masks tells us that masks that have valves can only work for pollution not for the spread of coronavirus.
The first purpose of a mask is to protect others from oneself, incase one is infected. The second purpose of a mask is to protect the person who has been wearing it. If one is wearing a mask in high pollution then the purpose of the mask is only to protect him/her but the case is different when one has worn the mask during the coronavirus pandemic.
A pollution mask must filter and clean the air that one has been inhaling and can easily release the air that has been exhaled by the wearer from the mask.
But a coronavirus protection mask must ensure that there is 100% filtration during inhalation and effective filtration of the air one has released or exhaled.
The problem with a mask that has a valve is that while it filters the air that you are breathing in, it doesn’t allow for the filtration of the air that you breathe out. So this implies that if one has coronavirus and is wearing a mask that has a valve, they are potentially infecting the others. So if you wear a mask that has a valve, you may infect other people if you already have the coronavirus.So how is it that one can choose an efficient mask? The coronavirus pandemic requires us to choose the mask carefully. The four important things to keep in mind are-
- Certified Viral filtration efficiency(VFE should be 95%)
- The material of the mask should be a breathable fabric for comfort during the usage.
- Proper fit, a loose mask is useless and if it doesn’t cover your mouth and nose properly its totally useless.
- Masks should be using nanotechnology as it elevates the filtration capacity of the mask and brings down resistance in breathing.
The global community has been addressing the significance of discontinuing the usage of masks with valves and has said that they are capable of allowing the inhalation and the exhalation of infectious respiratory droplets. It is for this reason that the popularly used N95 mask that has a valve in it is widely discouraged by all medical circuits and it has been found that it doesn’t not function in a pandemic such as the coronavirus and puts the lives of both the wearer and others in danger.