A Review on the Effectiveness of Wearing Face Masks in Protecting Against COVID-19 Omicron Variant
The wearing of masks is one of the many layers of protection needed to fight against COVID-19. Although the use of masks at the start of the pandemic was controversial, today, many solid data point to the effectiveness of masks as protection against respiratory diseases.
How Can Wearing Masks in Public Protect Us From COVID-19?
The use of face masks is beneficial, especially in areas where physical distancing is not possible. Wearing these masks in public works in two ways. Firstly, it protects the public from infected individuals, especially those who are carrying the virus without showing any symptoms.
A medical face mask acts as a barrier against droplets and aerosols that can enter your nose, eyes and mouth. It partly filters out infected particles that are floating in the air.
Secondly, the use of face masks in public prevents the infected person from spreading it to the public. This is termed as source control. A face mask blocks virus-containing particles from being released into the air during exhalation.
The main source of transmission for COVID-19 is through exhalation from those who are carrying the virus. These inhalation droplets are released when people talk, cough, sing, sneeze or laugh.
The risk of exposure increases when people are in enclosed spaces, such as in public transport and offices. The infected person may not show symptoms in the early stage of the infection, so wearing face masks is the best option in preventing community transmission.
Furthermore, transmission is 7.5 times higher in countries without a mask mandate compared to those that have. The reproduction number of the virus is also significantly reduced when 80% of the population are wearing masks, which can help in putting an end to the virus.
The World Health Organization does not recommend wearing a mask when doing vigorous exercise because it can affect your breathing capacity, and the effectiveness of the mask is compromised when it is wet or damp.
Exercising outdoors is the best option in reducing the risk of catching the virus. However, if you have to work out in a gym, always keep a safe distance of at least 1 metre away from others.
It is also important to note that there is an increased risk of droplet transfer from those who are exercising due to the increase in respiratory volume and ventilation during exertion.
Little protection is better than no protection at all. However, certain face masks may not serve their purpose and can expose people to the disease.
When choosing a face mask, avoid those with exhalation valves because they allow viruses to escape through the valves. Masks with vents or holes defeat the goal of wearing a mask.
There was a shortage of face masks for sale early during the pandemic, which resulted in the popularity of cloth face masks. Unfortunately, cloth face masks do not offer the same protection as medical-grade face masks. However, when there is a lack of supply, putting several layers of fabrics can help minimise transmission.
Proper use of a mask is vital in preventing the spread of the virus and protecting yourself from getting it. Here are some tips on how to properly use a mask.
- Always wash or sanitise your hands before putting on the mask to make sure there isno contamination.
- There are different types of masks you can choose, such as surgical face masks, N95, KF95, cloth masks and respirators. Make sure to check for any defects or holes before using any.
- Properly fitted masks are important. Be sure that the mask fits snugly on your face. It should cover your nose and mouth without any gaps. Also, the ear loops shouldn’t be too loose and avoid pulling down the mask to your chin or leaving it dangling.
- Aside from respirators, face masks like N95, KN95 and the KF95 or the fish-type masks offer better seals because they can fit almost all types of face shapes. If you are using a cloth face mask, double layering is advisable.
- After donning the mask, avoid touching your face or the mask. For disposable masks, discard them properly and wash your hands after removing them.
The use of face masks is effective in preventing the transmission of COVID-19 among the public. Together with regular washing of hands and maintaining physical distance, this can help curb the spread of the disease and save lives.
Dexcon | Leading Medical PPE Supplier in Australia
If you’re looking for quality medical-grade face masks, check out our products at Dexcon. We supply premium medical devices and other PPE products, such as face masks, surgical gowns, medical face shields, COVID-19 antigen rapid test kits and more, for the medical, industrial and retail sectors in Australia and around the world.
Dexcon provides ethically priced products that are imported or exported to and from Australia. If you need a reliable medical device and PPE supplier, contact us today.
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