Categories: Coronavirus

Can a face mask really protect a person from getting coronavirus?

This is a very good and need of the hour topic to discuss because we are going through a COVID19 (disease) pandemic all over the world caused by the deadly SARS-Cov-2 virus (popularly known as CORONA virus). COVID 19 is a respiratory disease with severity ranging from mild (81%) to moderate and severe (19%, 15% hospitalisation, 4% ICCU care). Transmission occurs from man to man via respiratory droplet just like Influenza and other seasonal flu viruses.

Airborne transmission and Feco- oral transmission is not much documented yet in literature. When a person sneezes or coughs or speaks the droplet containing the virus can travel a distance of about 2 meters and then precipitate on the surface. Then when a man touches the infected object with his hand and keeps it on face or eye, the infection spreads to the man. That means the main mode of transmission is through respiratory droplets (macro droplet about 5 microns). Microdroplet containing the virus theoretically can travel quite a distance but that theory is yet to be proved. So, a MASK can prevent the spread of respiratory droplets and subsequently the CORONA virus. But that is true for COVID 19 patients, so why it is required for all of us? Because we do not know who are suffering from the disease (can be a patient in the incubation period or suffering from very mild disease with common cold symptom).

Next question comes how it prevents from getting the coronavirus infection. When we go outside then we can be in a situation where proper social distancing cannot be maintained for various reasons, then it can prevent the direct transmission from an infected but asymptomatic person (without the mask) to a non-infected person.

Apart from that, it can prevent the accidental touching of contaminated hand to face or lip. Not all persons do not need N95, FFP or Surgical 3 layered mask. Those masks are needed for the HCPs and the patients and their direct attendant. Any homemade mask made up of cloth will do it for us when we will go outside. By doing this the countries like South Korea, Vietnam, Taiwan, Singapore, Japan, Czech Republic were able to control their COVID 19 disease within a manageable limit. That’s why now CDC and a few other organisations like WB GOVT. (except WHO till to date) recommend the use of MASK for everyone.

At least something is better than nothing. if you are too Pessimistic!!! But at the end not only the wearing of face mask, that is good enough but also maintaining the proper hand hygiene, social distancing, staying at home during lockdown is the way to go forward to win the battle against coronavirus.

Dr. Mridul Bera | Consultant General Medicine | Narayana Multispeciality Hospital, Howrah and Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, Howrah

Narayana Health

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