Importance of a Mask in the times of Covid-19
Importance of a Mask in the context of Covid-19 & Why Homemade/Cotton Mask are Insufficient.
COVID-19 has left us all confused about numerous things, including whether masks are useful, how they function, who should wear them and what kind is appropriate. You are not alone if you are struggling with all the confusion that there is.To simplify this, we are here to answer all your queries.
Why do you need a mask?
COVID-19 is an infectious disease that primarily spreads from one person to another through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
Those infected might possess symptoms such as fever, cold, dry cough etc. Additionally, a significant number of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms, a.k.a, asymptomatic carriers and many develop symptoms much later (Pre-Symptomatic Carriers) and can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms.
Hence, a mask can be worn to provide protection to the wearer from getting infected or it can be worn to protect others from being infected by the wearer.
The number of active COVID-19 cases are increasing rapidly and with the new lockdown relaxations in India, people are resorting to their normal lives. While social distancing must be adhered to, it is almost impossible to be followed at all times, especially in a country like ours.
Visits to the grocery stores, hospitals, using of public transport and with businesses, schools, institutions all planning to re-open, social distancing will become a luxury only few can afford.
Wearing a mask seems like the only logical solution. It has to become the new normal, a way of living until a permanent solution comes our way which may take a few months or even a year or two.
What kind of Masks are available in India?
There are three different kinds of masks available in India: Cotton masks, Surgical masks and FFPRs , commonly known as an N95.
Let’s understand the difference between the three.
Cotton Masks are nothing but cotton fabrics woven into a mask. These are readily available and can also be made at home. However, they aren’t very effective as they absorb any droplets they come into contact with.They are mostly very thin masks and are highly susceptible to the virus. They can get penetrated by up to 97% of the viral particles from the air.
The other alarming concern with Cotton Mask is also its loose fit which makes it insufficient to be a protective barrier.
Surgical masks (3-ply) are effective in blocking splashes, large-particle droplets and even particles as small as the size of 0.3 micron. They have a strong barrier which can have a Bacterial Filtration Efficiency (BFE) of >99.8%. However, much like cotton masks, the loose fit of surgical masks don't provide complete protection from germs and other contaminants. These masks are best used when one is present in a controlled environment, which is why health workers use them.
You can wear a surgical mask when you are visiting your family members, entertaining guests at home or at your workplace with fewer employees.
Lastly, a Filtering Face-Piece Respirator (commonly referred to as FFPR) which is commonly known as an N95 in India is a protective respiratory device which is specially designed to attain a very close facial fit and is extremely coherent in filtering airborne particles, viruses, bacteria, pollution making N95 as the best protection against COVID-19 when you are in a public space.
One must note that not all masks available in the market follow the best in
industry practises. However, we at HALO ensure that the quality of our masks exceed both domestic as well as international testing standards.
The surgical marks by HALO have three layered filters.
The first & third layer is the Non-Woven Spun Bond Fabric while the middle layer is the Virgin(Master Batch) Non-Woven Melt Blown Fabric.
The FFPRs produced by HALO have five layered filters.
The top most exterior layer is Non-Woven Spun Bond Fabric, followed by two layers of Virgin(MasterBatch) Non-Woven Melt Blown Fabric. The next layer is the Needle Punch Fabric, also commonly known as the Hot Air Cotton. And the innermost layer is the Hydrophilic Spun Bond Fabric. It is an absorbent material, and as such soaks up sweat and removes irritation of the skin(last/skin layer). This ensures easy breathability and one can wear the mask for a longer duration.
You may wonder, why is it that everyone is then promoting the use of a cotton mask?
In the beginning of the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was an acute shortage of Surgical masks & FFPRs and as such cotton masks gained popularity as the best possible alternative. Additionally, these critical supplies were reserved only for the nation’s healthcare workers.
Not to forget, FFPRs & Surgical Masks need to be regularly disposed of and as such can be expensive while cotton masks can be reused.Considering the fact that non everyone can afford to use the expensive mask at all times, a cotton mask seems like the best alternative.
Each of the masks can be used differently, but if you are somebody who is going out at Public places, using public transport, or are meeting a lot of people in general, it is highly recommended that you use an FFPR.
To know more about FFPRs, click here.