PGI Nephrologist raises concern to initiate proper education drive for people on how to wear the mask right
Heres his take and tips to wear mask right
With the continued relaxation after a rigid 40 days Lockdown, more and more activities have been permitted for the general public. The residents of Chandigarh being health-conscious were missing their walk at the neighborhood parks or the Sukhna Lake. Hence, the first activity in which the people jumped after the relaxation was to restart their routine morning and evening walks at these places. I also started to go to a nearby park for my evening walk after a gap of almost two months. It was not a surprise to see so many walkers, joggers, and exercise lovers in the park. It was also pleasant to see that people were maintaining adequate distance between them. Almost all were wearing some sort of face cover or mask, which was also a great feeling.
However, I was disappointed to note that though people have worn the face covers, the majority of them were not doing it the correct way. They have used all sorts of masks, masks were dangling in their neck, some below their nose, and some fitted very loosely.
Wearing face masks at public places in addition to hand hygiene and social distancing is an important safety measure to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus in this pandemic. As the fomites are the most common mode of transmission of coronavirus, proper masking by everyone will prevent the transmission of infection from one person to another. It will be of mutual benefit. Thus, a public education drive needs to be implemented to make the general public aware of the correct method of effective masking. The people have to follow certain masking etiquettes to enable them to fight over this public health crisis.
- Always wear masks/face cover whenever you are in a public place.
- The mask should be fitted snuggly to cover your face from the middle of your nose bridge till your chin. Don’t let your nose or mouth be exposed. Also, the mask should not fit loosely.
- Do not touch the outer surface of your mask/face cover.
- Do not remove and put back masks frequently. If you are in a public place, keep the mask on. Some people have the habit of removing mask while talking so that the other person can see their face. This habit will defeat the entire purpose of masking.
- Perform hand wash before putting and after removing your mask.
- After use, keep the mask in a dry ventilated place.
- If using cloth masks, try to wash them frequently (depending on how frequently you are using them). Please be aware of the maximum duration of use if you are using any of the medical masks.
Which type of masks?
If you go around the public places, you will observe people wearing all sort of different variety of masks. However, for use of general public, which one is best is a matter of debate.
- Cloth mask/Dupatta/Handkerchief: These masks are the cheapest and the most readily available sort of masks. They are also the adequate kind of masks for use by the general public in any public place or crowded place. These are the most cost-effective way of preventing the transmission of the virus from one person to another. A simple one or two layers of cloth covering your nose and mouth will prevent the transmission of infection to others.
- Surgical masks (Two-ply/Three-ply): Another cheaper variety of masks available widely are two or three-ply surgical masks, which are also very cost-effective. However, they can not be used for a long duration and required proper disposal so that the used masks do not transmit the infection and also to prevent reuse.
- Anti-pollution masks: All sorts of anti-pollution masks are available in the market of various colors and designs. People can use them. They are also easily washable and reusable.
- Triple-layer Masks with filter/respirator: The general public should not be using any masks with respirator or filter. The simple reason is that the filter is there to help in exhalation. They transmit the exhaled air directly to outside the masks. The role of universal masking is to prevent the transmission amongst each other. But with the use of masks with filters, this purpose is defeated. If you are infected or carrying the virus, these filters will just transmit it to outside infecting others. These masks are of use to health care workers, where they have to use the masks for hours and thus the filter helps in decreasing the work of breathing and prevent exhaustion. The general public should preferably be not using these masks.
- N 95 masks: These are the most expensive masks. The supply is limited and the masks are not even available to health care workers who are dealing with Coronavirus patients. Thus, proper rationing is needed for these masks. Not only this, but these masks also fit onto the face very tightly and increases the work of breathing. Prolonged use of these masks can cause hypoxia. If you are walking/jogging or exercising in the park, your breathing will increase and if you are using these masks, chances of going into hypoxia increase. Moreover, these masks lose their efficacy after use for a few hours. These masks are also required to be disposed off in a proper manner, which is not available to the public. Due to all these reasons, it is not advisable to use these masks by the general public. They may cause more harm than benefit.
Hope these tips will help. Happy Masking!!