As an increasing number of reports are released on the growing number of cases of Wuhan coronavirus, pictures of throngs of people wearing face masks have become the norm. However, do these surgical masks actually manage to prevent the disease from spreading?
Before answering this question, it’s important to note the different face masks available.
For health workers who are in close contact with coronavirus patients, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise that the N95 respirator be used. This is a heavy-duty face mask, which protects the user’s nose and mouth through blocking the entry of small particles.
In contrast, the majority of the public wear the disposable type of surgical mask. Typically, these masks cost way less than the N95 and are made of paper. Experts disclosed that there’s minimal proof that these paper masks can actually protect its users from infection.
These surgical masks can only be able to shield you from visible splashes or sprays of fluid. Basically, these merely function as physical barriers.
Why are these masks unable to provide the same security as the N95?
For one, the surgical masks do not offer a tight fit to its users. Hence, small airborne molecules can easily get through.
Are these masks completely useless?
The answer is no. Research suggests that wearing surgical masks can reduce the risk of infection in small spaces.
A good example is when you’re at home and are taking care of a loved one suffering from a respiratory disease. If you tighten the mask and ensure that you wear it at all times, then your chances of acquiring the disease will be low. You should also be extremely careful when you’re removing the mask. Make to not touch the front side to avoid contaminating yourself and the others around you.