Preventing the Spread of Covid-19: Masks
Since the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic, mask wearing has become a normal part of life and in general, compliance levels have been exceptionally high here in Ireland.
The importance of mask wearing in the fight to prevent the spread of the virus has been reinforced by this week’s CDC report which highlights the link between the reduction in hospitalisations and mask wearing in the 33 states where mandates have been issued.
Mask wearing will continue to be a part of life for us for the foreseeable future, even with the rollout of the vaccine programme and so we have put together this simple questions and answers section to address the most common queries that we receive.
How do masks prevent the spread of Covid-19?
Covid-19 spreads mainly from person to person through respiratory droplets. Respiratory droplets travel into the air when you cough, sneeze, talk, shout, or sing. These droplets can then land in the mouths or noses of people who are near you or they may breathe these droplets in.
Masks are a simple barrier to help prevent your respiratory droplets from reaching others. Studies show that masks reduce the spray of droplets when worn over the nose and mouth.
You should wear a mask, even if you do not feel sick. This is because several studies have found that people with Covid-19 who never develop symptoms (asymptomatic) and those who are not yet showing symptoms (pre-symptomatic) can still spread the virus to other people. Wearing a mask helps protect those around you, in case you are infected but not showing symptoms.
It is especially important to wear a mask when you are indoors with people you do not live with and when you are unable to stay at least 6 feet apart since Covid-19 spreads mainly among people who are in close contact with one another. (Source: cdc.gov)
What is the difference between 3 Ply Surgical Masks and KN95 / FFP2 Masks?
The materials used in both types of masks is quite similar and so they provide adequate protection in most settings.
However, the HSE in Ireland have recommended the use of KN95 / FFP2 masks when working in close contact with confirmed cases due to “the greater level of fit of the mask to the individual’s face: the robust barrier effectively prevents the inhalation of the aerosolised secretions from the infected patient”. (Source: hse.ie)
Do cloth face coverings offer the same protection as 3 Ply Surgical Masks and KN95 / FFP2 Masks?
Cloth face masks made of a breathable material such as cotton offer an adequate barrier when social distancing is being practiced and so current recommendations in Ireland allow for their use in normal, non medical settings. However, these masks do not offer the sort of filtration that 3 Ply Surgical Masks and KN95 / FFP2 Masks offer. For this reason, with new variants of the Covid-19 virus proving to be more transmissible, some countries are moving away from cloth face coverings.
In Germany, the federal and state governments introduced measures last week making medical masks — identified as surgical masks or KN95 or FFP2 masks — mandatory in stores and on public transit. It also issued a recommendation that medical masks be worn whenever there is close or prolonged contact with other people, particularly in enclosed spaces. (Source: npr.org)
Should I wear a mask while exercising?
The simple answer is NO!
The World Health Organisation says “Even when you’re in an area of Covid-19 transmission, masks should not be worn during vigorous physical activity because of the risk of reducing your breathing capacity. No matter how intensely you exercise, keep at least 1 metre away from others, and if you’re indoors, make sure there is adequate ventilation”.
When indoor facilities such as gyms are open, shared equipment should be sanitised effectively between users. Medichem can provide a range of antiviral wipes that are effective against Covid-19. Bucket Wipes are a cost effective solution for staff to use while our sachet alcohol wipes are ideal for gym users to keep in their pockets.