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How to Protect From COVID 19? Use the Right Mask – By Binny Yadav & Olivia Sarkar

“N95 Mask May be Doing More harm Than Good”-

(Francisco Department of Public Health)

How to protect from Corona is the question everyone is seeking the answer for. What we know is little. Corona has been here for many months now. We just have certain protocols to prevent it. One such is the use of mask.

But there are issues regarding the use of mask and the right choice of mask to protect from corona.

There has been a continuous debate and lingering confusion about the right kind of mask which prevent from Corona virus.

There is this fuss against the inappropriate use of N95 masks that doesn’t seem to die down. Triggering the debate once again is the warning by the Union health Ministry of India against the use of “N95 masks with valved respirators.”

What we know for sure is that the use of mask is the only important protocol in corona times to prevent and protect. But how? What kind of mask?

It has been many months since we learnt living with Corona and we know the new normal of life. “Wear a mask before you step out”, you keep telling yourself. Isn’t it? But do we know how we falter still? By not choosing it right.

Arti Arora, a resident of New Delhi, feels agitated to see educated and aware people just wearing masks for the heck of it and using the masks as a matter of fashion statement by matching it up with their dress and colour coding these.

Arti has been strongly raising her concerns regarding the use of right masks among her fellow residents since one of her neighbours caught the Corona infection through a vegetable mart even though she was wearing the mask. “Corona virus is all around and everyone knows the importance of masks in prevention against Covid 19 but many people are either not serious about wearing the mask or if they are, the use of inappropriate mask may be the cause of spread of infection” she says.

Arti’s concerns are not unfounded. Choosing right masks is a big concern when people already know how important it is to wear mask while venturing out.

Case against N95 Mask for Covid19

There has been a debate raging regarding the use of right kind of masks since the first case of covid 19 came and now the health agencies seem to be reaching out on a conclusion regarding the same. Union Health Ministry of India issued a warning in July against the use of N95 mask with valved respirators, which is basically the raised plastic disc that is embedded in filter.

Director General Health services in Health Ministry of India, Dr Rajiv Gera, through a letter to all States and Union Territory India said that, “it is to bring to your knowledge that the use of valved respirator N95 mask is detrimental to the measures adopted for preventing the spread of covid19 as it does not prevent the virus from escaping out of mask”.

Why is N95 Unsafe in Covid

N95 masks with a plastic valve is a big “No” to use for protection from Covid 19. Governments of different countries have issued guidelines for the public stressing on the facts that N95 masks with one-way valves are not only of no use they may create more trouble.

An early warning against the N95 mask was issued by San Francisco Department of Public Health through twitter in May this year.

The warning said that N95 mask “may be doing more harm than good when it comes to preventing the spread of Covid 19”.

“The ones with the valves or opening on the front are not safe and may actually propel your germs further”, warned the Francisco Department of Public Health.

“Any mask with one-way opening was not to be used,” was the clear warning against N95.

What are N95 mask

After the warnings by the government against the use of N95 masks as a protection against covid 19 many residents like Arti have been demanding a complete ban on the sale of N95. “Why can’t the government ban N95 mask when we already know the harm,” asks Arti.

N95 mask is the personal Protective Equipment that protect the wearer from airborne particles and from liquid Contaminating the face.

N95 mask are worn mostly by the healthcare workers and are known to offer the highest level of protection against airborne infection filtering about 95 per cent of particles smaller than 300 nano metres.

The warning is against the N95 mask that come with exhalation valve.

Right mask to prevent Covid 19

Health Ministry of India has been encouraging to use home-made face masks or covering made of cloth, preferably cotton which can be tied or fastened over nose and mouth.

World Health Organistion (WHO), has also been issuing guidelines to wear fabric mask (non-medical) in public with at least three layers of different material. Person with Covid 19 symptom should wear medical mask.

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