You may have seen people in your community wearing surgical face masks as an answer to coronavirus concerns. Some say they are ineffective and unnecessary such as Chief of Public Health in Canada, Theresa Tam. Then, there are other countries that have strongly emphasized the use of masks, seeing rates of hospitalizations and infection drop.
Do face masks work against COVID-19 – everyone’s received mixed messages on this question. Assuming you are coughing or sneezing, a face mask works well at preventing someone with COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others. To this extent, face masks work. They won’t necessarily protect a person from contracting coronavirus but they are highly effective at preventing the spread, in the event someone is asymptomatic or coughing or sneezing.
If you are caring for someone with COVID-19 or with a compromised immune system, you will absolutely want to be wearing a face mask. The risk is much higher for these people. If they become infected with coronavirus, the likelihood of hospitalization and fatality rate is higher amongst people with underlying medical conditions.
Although social distancing is, by far, the most effective method of preventing the spread of coronavirus, sometimes it cannot be maintained. If you are in a supermarket or on public transportation, you want to be wearing a face mask. You are close to others. There’s no way to maintain social distancing in a reasonable way. For these high-risk environments, you’ve got to use a face mask.
We can also look to other countries and recommendations as to whether we should be wearing face masks for coronavirus. In hard-hit regions like Italy, face mask use is mandatory. The US CDC has recommended face masks but in the form of cloth face coverings. Unfortunately, these cloths sometimes can catch droplets and produce the opposite effect of protection. A recent study examining face masks comparing them to cloth coverings found that someone wearing a cloth mask is more likely to catch a virus like COVID-19 because of the way the cloth catches the droplets.
Then there’s, of course, an argument that can be made against using face masks. They are in short supply. It is much more reasonable to not wear or buy face masks and instead allow healthcare professionals and our front-line workers to use them.
All in all, the evidence isn’t clear on whether face masks are absolutely necessary or not. The recommendations given in this article are current with existing Canadian public health directives. Should you choose to make your own, it can be challenging because a lot of materials do not work well, including linen, silk, and general cloth. Contaminating a reusable mask is also very common. If you make the perfect mask and don’t wear it correctly – so that it provides a seal through which bacterial and viral aerosols cannot transfer – you may as well not be wearing anything.
Are you looking for COVID-19 face masks in Canada – try Living.ca. Receive disposable face masks that go over the mouth and provide you with an adequate way to defend yourself in the fight against coronavirus.
Featured photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash