We all heard a lot about this deadly virus lately, and it is spreading very fast all over the world. It has mutated from an animal host (possible bats, snakes or pangolins) and it initially appeared on humans in the Wuhan region of China. Most of the news and media coverage are also accompanied by pictures of people wearing face masks for protection. But does a face mask really offer protection against COVID-19? Let’s find out in this article.
How Do Viruses Get Transmitted?
Viruses such as Influenza, Rhinovirus, Adenovirus, and Coronavirus have two main mechanisms of transmission from one human to another. The first one is through airborne droplets that contain the virus, which is released through the mouth when a sick person is coughing or sneezing.
A cough travels at a speed of 50 mph and expels about 3,000 droplets, while a sneeze travels at a speed of 100 mph and expels an incredible amount of 100,000 droplets. These droplets are very tiny and they can hang around in the air for extended periods of time, and cause an infection when breathed. And the worst part is that even if you inhale a very low number of virus-containing droplets, you can still get sick. For example, the previous SARS virus was causing an infection in mice with less than 10 viruses.
The larger droplets will quickly fall out of the air and land on various surfaces around the infected person (tables, chairs, door handles, etc.) This leads us to the second method of contamination: healthy people end up touching those surfaces and get the viruses on their hands. The virus does not pierce through the skin to cause an infection, but it usually enters the body when people are touching their mouth, nose or eyes. People are constantly touching their face without even realizing it, thus transmitting the infection.
Precaution Method 1: Wear a Mask
So based on the two methods of transmission of the virus, we have two main protection measures. The first one is to avoid inhaling the tiny airborne particles that are released when a sick person is coughing or sneezing. Will a face mask help?
The cheap and common surgical masks do not help. They do not filter very small particles, and they also have open spaces around the edges; they do not seal the face properly. So what you need in this case is an N95 respirator mask, that will filter even the small particles and will seal your face perfectly.
The mask should be replaced often, especially if you got in contact with large crowds of people or someone sneezed near you. So the masks do protect uninfected persons in certain scenarios, but they are even better for those who are already infected.
A mask will block the droplets released through coughing or sneezing, acting as a splatter guard, thus preventing other people from getting the virus. So the best thing you should do in case you have any symptoms of COVID-19 is to wear a mask in order to protect those around you and seek medical attention immediately.
Precaution Method 2: Wash Your Hands
As mentioned above, the second way for a virus to spread around is through the surfaces where droplets land. But people can also move the virus around with their hands, so they can basically get anywhere, including on computer keyboards, door handles, steering wheels and so on.
So the best way to get protected is to wash your hands with water and soap as often as possible or to disinfect them with alcohol-based sanitizers. And when your hands are not clean, definitely do not touch your eyes, mouth or nose.
A recent study has shown that the use of a face mask combined with hand sanitizers decreased flu infections by 50 to 75% compared to no precaution measures.
So protecting yourself and others against the virus is definitely an easy and affordable process for anyone. Wash your hands often and get your N95 respirator mask from this link.