After celebrating the New Year’s Eve without friends in 2019, some of us thought 2020 was going to be a year for us, and we will finally have flying cars. However, that wasn’t the case at all. From the beginning of 2020, Mother Earth was afflicted with one or another disaster. Keep reading to learn all about coronavirus face masks!
After the Australian wildfires were taken care of, we thought that perhaps now we could start the year properly. But that wasn’t the case at all. Covid-19, a new illness emerged in the form of a pandemic, as declared by the World Health Organization.
To cope with this pandemic, we must protect ourselves and everyone around us. And even though it is in our best interest to stay at home, sometimes we need to get out of the house to take of urgent matters. While dealing with these urgent matters, the best option to protect yourself is to wear a personal protective system, also known as PPE. If you don’t have a PPE, you can opt to use a face mask. Whether you’re wearing a PPE or a face mask, it’s essential that you maintain the safe distance from one person to another and follow the other rules of the lockdown.
Now, there is more than one type of face mask you can use for your battle against the coronavirus. While you can use a surgical mask to protect yourself, you may need a face mask with better filtration. This is because one thing many people aren’t aware of when it comes to using these masks is that wearing them for more extended hours may cause breathing problems and fatigue around the ears.
But do you necessarily need the face mask with the most filtration? Or will a surgical mask get the job done? In this article, we will look at the different masks you can wear to protect yourself from the coronavirus, and to help stop the spread of the virus.
Before we talk about coronavirus masks, let’s learn a little about how the coronavirus emerged.
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Summary of the Pandemic so far
Coronavirus began its malice since last year. On New year’s eve, China informed WHO about a rare disease. On the 7th of January, WHO termed the virus as 2019-nCoV and said that the virus belonged in the coronavirus family.
Coronavirus took its first life on the 11th of January. The victim was 61 years old and died of heart failure from hospital treatment. And, slowly after that, the virus started spreading all across the world, contaminating anyone and everyone through physical contact. The widespread transmission of the coronavirus was confirmed by an expert on infectious diseases in China. And on the 23rd of January, Wuhan and a few other cities in China went under lockdown.
At this point, the world didn’t go under lockdown, as WHO had no evidence that the virus was contaminating people outside of China. At the end of January, on the 30th, WHO declared the coronavirus as a global emergency. At this point, coronavirus had already spread in all the 31 provinces of China and 170 people became a victim to this virus.
Later, the virus was found in other countries like the UK, UAE, Singapore, and many other countries. On the 11th of February, coronavirus got its name as COVID-19. Ever since the initial contamination, it has only gotten worse. The outcome of the virus has been so bad that it is dubbed as the worst crisis after World War 2.
Symptoms of Covid-19
The thing about coronavirus is that anyone affected with the virus may witness symptoms that range from mild to severe. Some of us may even asymptomatic to the virus. Another thing you should know about the virus is that anyone with a track record of heart problems, lung problems or diabetes is more susceptible to the coronavirus.
Does that mean those who are young and free of such medical conditions have no chance of contracting this virus? Absolutely not! Just like those who have those medical conditions, those who are young and free from any health conditions can also contract the coronavirus. In fact, even children can contract the virus.
Therefore, it’s a must for us to know what the symptoms of the coronavirus are, and, if any of these symptoms surface in any of us, we must place ourselves in isolation to protect our loved ones.
Some common symptoms of the coronavirus include coughing, having trouble breathing, having sore throats, and muscle pains. In addition, you may suffer from fever and experience little to no taste and smell.
However, these are the common symptoms, and it’s not limited to just these. You can also experience come less-common symptoms like diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. Other less-common symptoms include gastrointestinal problems as well.
What symptoms you experience depends on the severity of your illness. If your situation is very severe, you should contact the hospital and seek treatment there. In the most severe case, you will have difficulty breathing just from trying to get up from the bed.
Why You Should Wear a Face Mask
What we must remember in these bleak times is that, if we are not careful, we might be affected by the virus as well, and as a result, our family members be at risk f contracting the virus too. That’s because you can be a carrier without demonstrating any symptoms of the coronavirus; this is called being asymptomatic. On the other hand, you can be a carrier even before showing signs; this is called being presymptomatic.
These are the reasons why you ought to take preventive measures even if you feel completely healthy. And when you go outside for your urgent tasks, you should wear a mask to protect yourself from those who are affected. You must wear it when you are heading outside, or if you’re looking after someone suffering from the virus.
On the flip side, if you are suffering from the virus, you should wear a mask to stop the spreading of the virus. In this case, you should know how to use and dispose of the coronavirus mask properly.
A note to remember is that a mask alone can’t save you from the coronavirus. You must follow other preventive measures to keep yourself safe. If you are not cleaning your hands with sanitizers or soaps frequently, the mask loses its effectiveness. So, be sure to follow all the preventive measures as well as wearing a face mask.
How does the Face Masks Work?
Let us now discuss how these face masks can help slow the spread of the coronavirus. When we speak, sneeze, and cough, tiny droplets are sent into the air. These small droplets can carry the virus. This means that if you are someone who is suffering from Covid-19, the droplets that come out when you sneeze, cough, or talk, contain the coronavirus.
Hence, a face mask acts as an obstacle between the droplets and air. By blocking the virus-containing droplets from reaching the air, the spread of the virus is slowed down. That’s why wearing a coronavirus mask is so important.
Face Masks and Other Preventive Measures
As mentioned before, just wearing a mask won’t be enough to prevent the coronavirus, you must follow the other preventive measures as well. Whether you have a face mask on or off, there are some steps you need to follow to ensure the full protection from the virus. The steps are:
Firstly, before wearing the face mask, you must clean your hands with sanitizers or soap. After putting on the face mask, ensure that the mask is covering both your mouth and nose. You should also ensure that the mask is covering your face correctly with no gaps in-between.
Secondly, when you’re wearing a face mask, refrain from touching it. And, be sure to clean your hands using sanitizers or soap if you do.
Thirdly, change the mask you’re using as soon as it’s damp, and refrain from using it again, especially if it’s a one-time use mask.
In addition, when you’re taking off the mask, refrain from touching the front side of the mask and take it off from the behind. After taking it off, discard it without any delay in a bin that can be sealed. And to finish the process, clean your hands with a sanitizer or soap.
Lastly, to fully utilize a face mask, you must follow social distancing rules like staying six feet apart from other people as well.
Types of Face Masks
There are a few types of face masks that you can use to protect yourself; each has its own level of protection. While you can simply buy these face masks, you can also DIY your own coronavirus masks. The types of face mask you can use include:
You’ve seen these face masks every time you have visited a hospital. The surgical masks also go by the name of medical masks. These surgical masks are generally loose fitting and disposable. Like any other mask, these create an obstacle between you and the contamination from droplets and sprays. However, these masks can only block larger particles coming from the wearer.
The surgical face masks fall under the regulation of 21 CFR 878.4040. These masks can’t be shared with other people, and the masks are properly labeled according to their use, like dental or surgical, and many more.
Surgical masks come in different levels of thickness; this also means that the range of protection and the ease to breathe through these depends on their thickness. When worn properly, a surgical face mask will protect your nose and mouth from coming in contact with large droplets, saliva, and other respiratory secretions contaminated with the virus.
The flaw of a surgical face mask is that it can only block large droplets and splashes. Because of its loose fitting, these masks don’t work against little particles that you can come in contact with coughs and sneezes. This also means that you’re not getting complete protection from other germs and contaminants.
Surgical face masks are meant for one-time use only. If you’re having difficulty breathing through the mask, or if you have spoiled or damaged it somehow, get rid of it and use a new face mask. The way you should get rid of it is by placing it in a plastic container and throwing it away in a bin. Also, be sure to clean your hands after disposing of it.
N95 respirator face mask is the ideal mask to have during the pandemic. By wearing this face mask, one can achieve protection from tiny particles that may contain the virus, thanks to its close fit and extremely efficient filtration from particles in the air.
The name of the mask has a meaning; the N95 at the start beginning refers to masks excellent ability to block 95 percent of the tiny airborne particles, and that is the minimum. These small particles can be the size of 0.3 microns. These masks are carefully made and tested, and when worn properly, it can fend off most airborne diseases.
This makes the N95 respirator mask very efficient during these hard times. However, even when worn properly, it won’t entirely eliminate the possibility of illness.
Cloth Face Masks
While you can surgical face masks and the N95 respiratory face masks, its mostly intended to be used in the medical fields. And if you don’t want to use these, you can DIY your face masks.
When making your own face mask, be sure to use fabric materials and use two layers of those materials. You can also make a pocket in your handmade mask to store a filter. Do remember to take the filter out, before washing your face mask.
After you’re done making your face mask from fabric materials, you can tie the mask around your face using hair ties acting as the ear loop. Also, you can use copper or some wire ribbons to get a better fitting.
Besides these, you can use some other kinds of face masks. For example, you can use dust masks that you can find in a hardware store. They look a lot like N95 masks but don’t have the same filtration attributes. You can also use Neoprene face masks. These types of face masks can stop contaminated droplets. Furthermore, you can use a neck gaiter. Neck gaiters are a piece of material that’s tied in a loop, and these are made from synthetic fabrics. You can fold the material into a few layers if the said material is thin.
When it comes to comparing the effectiveness of a DIY face mask, a surgical face mask, and an N95 face mask, it seems that N95 does a better job of protecting you from airborne particles.
Looking at this chart, we can see how effective these types of face masks are. The DIY face mask people generally make at home with fabric seems to be 60% effective at blocking sub microns. You can step up the sub-micron count with a surgical face mask, using which you can block up to 78.6% airborne particles, an 18.6% increment in blocking capabilities. And the best among these three face masks is the N95 face masks, which prevent penetration of 98.9% sub-microns. It goes to show how effectively you can protect yourself wearing an N95 face mask.
This also shows that making and wearing a DIY face mask should be your last resort. But of course, it is better than having no protection at all.
As one can guess, with the increased demand, the price of protective gear such as face masks are soaring. Not only that, but since China was the first one to suffer from coronavirus, the supply to the rest of the world has been disrupted. As a result, prices are increasing, according to the World Health Organization.
This may explain why people like you and me are now facing difficulties trying to acquire a protective gear for our personal use. The increased price has also created the chance of business malpractice. With the supply low and demand high, many businesses can hoard protective gear for selling them later at a higher price. In fact, the demand has seen a 100% increase and cost, a 20% increase. And with the sudden rise in demand, there has been a supply backlog of 4 to 6 months.
Wearing a face mask does help slow the spreading of the coronavirus. Hence, it is crucial that we wear a mask while also following the other preventive measures and the rules of social distancing. If we all cooperate, only then we can slow the spread of the coronavirus, and put an end to this crisis.