Posted by Kingdavid Ozobodo on

In the face of the novel COVID 19 pandemic, health protocols and safety guidelines were prescribed by health authorities. Social distancing, the use of hand sanitisers and nosemasks are the suggested precautionary measures to help prevent spread of the infection.

As a consequence, a couple type of nosemasks which have been in existence before the outbreak are now used on a large scale and every health conscious individual seeks to know the right choice to make in the face of variety.

It is common knowledge that the different types of nosemasks that exist have different material makeup and so will provide different levels of protection. The situation of use also varies and so you need to know which nosemask will be appropriate in any given moment.

It is necessary to firstly identify the variety of nosemasks that exist.

1. Homemade cloth face mask: This is the most commonly used nosemask made from plain ordinary fabric. Homemade face masks only offers the least degree of protection from infection although it helps prevent asymptomatic people from spreading the virus

According to the CDC recommendations, cloth facemasks can be used in public settings, especially in areas of significant community-based transmission, such as grocery stores and pharmacies. Nevertheless, the wearer shouldn't have a false sense of protection, and is encouraged to practice physical distancing and personal hygiene to boost protection.

It should be noted that children under 2 years of age, people with breathing problems, unconscious people and people who can't remove masks on their own, should not use cloth masks except under supervision.

People are also encouraged to use cloth face masks rather than N95's respirators, as these critical supplies must be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders. In the eventuality of healthcare professionals using cloth masks, it should be used alongside a face shield.

NOTE: homemade cloth masks are multiuse and should washed after every use. When removing, be careful not to touch your eyes, nose, and mouth. Wash hands immediately after removing.

2. Surgical Face masks.
Surgical masks are disposable, loose-fitting face masks that cover your nose, mouth, and chin.

Ideally, they are used to protect the wearer from sprays, splashes, and large-particle droplets. They are also worn by infected individuals to prevent the transmission of potentially infectious respiratory secretions from the wearer to others.

This means that surgical masks can’t protect against infection with SARS-CoV-2 although it is used by infected individuals to ensure that they don't spread the virus.

The inability of surgical masks from protecting wearers from infection stem from the fact that the mask lacks the ability to filter out smaller aerosol particles and the virus is transmitted via that medium. Also, air leakage also occurs through the sides of the mask as you inhale, making it possible for you to inhale infection particles.

3. N95 respirator
An N95 respirator is a more tight-fitting face mask. In addition to splashes, sprays, and large droplets, this respirator can also filter out 95% of very small particles. This includes viruses and bacteria. N95 respirators can protect against smaller respiratory droplets, such as those containing SARS-CoV-2.

The respirator itself is generally circular or oval in shape and is designed to form a tight seal to your face. Elastic bands help hold it firmly to your face.

Some types may have an attachment called an exhalation valve, which can help with breathing and the buildup of heat and humidity.

Fit testing is necessary for wearers of an N95 with subsequent Seal checks to ensure that a tight seal is achieved over the wearer's face. Nevertheless, it is important to note that a tight seal can’t be achieved in some groups such as children and people with facial hair.

The CDC however, recommends that N95 respirators should be used only in healthcare settings. This is due to a number of reasons;
N95 respirators cannot be worn for long periods of time because they are uncomfortable and stuffy due to their tight fit.
N95 respirators should be fit-tested in order to be used appropriately. A poor seal can lead to leakage, lowering the respirator’s effectiveness. Fit testing standards can be attained in healthcare settings.
Global supply of N95 respirators are limited and healthcare practitioners and Frontline workers should have priority access.

Summary: Cloth masks provide minimal protection to COVID infection and should be used when going to crowded places although personal hygiene should not be neglected. Surgical masks should only be used by infected individuals as they provide no protection against COVID infection. N95 respirators provide maximum protection although their use should be localised but not limited to healthcare settings due to the need for fit testing which may not be conformed to, personal discomfort and limited supply.
Corona virus Covid 19 facemask N95 respirator Nosemask surgical mask

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