Coronavirus, officially named COVID-19, has hit the world like a storm this 2020.
As of 10 March 2020, Australia has been reported with 100 confirmed cases and 3 deaths. Some of these confirmed cases have been human to human transmissions with victims having no travel history to China, Iran, or other infected countries.
With scares amounting to toilet paper epidemics across Australia with fights breaking out over the panic buying, it’s time to take a look at how serious coronavirus is and the measures you can take to help protect yourself and your loved ones from it.
Are surgical masks effective against coronavirus?
There are several different types of masks, all of which serve different purposes.
The most common masks seen in public are surgical masks. These are thinner masks intended for surgeons to keep pathogens from the doctor’s mouth and nose from entering the surgical surface. In Asian culture, it is rather common to see people wearing surgical masks in public for the purposes of protecting against pathogens and pollution.
Surgical masks are not designed to prevent viral particles from penetrating through, and are instead useful for stopping pathogens and larger particles such as droplets from getting through. Surgical masks are also not a tight fit in comparison to a respirator, which means that virus particles are able to enter the mouth and nose region in areas where the mask is loose.
A surgical mask is better than no masks, in that they do help prevent droplets containing the virus from touching the covered parts of your face. It is, however, a modest form of prevention.
Are N95 masks and respirators effective against coronavirus?
Designed to filter out at least 95% of airborne particles as small as 0.3 microns, the masks are capable of filtering droplets, bacteria and virus particles.
N95 respirators are different to surgical masks in terms of filtration levels, as well as the tight fit when properly worn. Minimal leakage is confirmed around the edges of the respirator, meaning viral particles will not be able to penetrate the mask when properly worn.
Albeit effective, there is a worry that mass public purchasing of N95 respirators will result in a shortage in N95 masks for health workers who need it when dealing with infected patients.
How to use a face mask effectively
If you are healthy, there isn’t an inherent need to wear an N95 mask to protect yourself, unless you interact with someone who is suspected to have COVID-19.
Where you need to wear a mask, be sure to clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or with soap and warm water. Ensure that your mouth and nose are covered tightly by the mask and that there are no gaps between the mask and your face.
It is important to remember that masks are only effective when used in combination with good sanitary practices. Wash your hands frequently and avoid touching outdoor surfaces.
When wearing a mask, do your best to avoid touching it as your hands may contain viral particles that will be left on the outside of your mask. Do not use a mask for more than a day.
Hopefully these tips will help you take the necessary steps to protect yourself from coronavirus. Remember, an N95 respirator mask is the recommended face mask to use when dealing with coronaviruses.