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Are surgical masks effective at preventing the spread of COVID-19?

17th April 2020

The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 is slowing worldwide, but still increases each day. Having said that, different health agencies have recommended wearing face coverings when going out in public. The World Health Organization has a stance that face masks are not required unless you are a health worker, sick, or an individual who cares for the sick. Many people have chosen to wear a mask as an extra added precaution against getting the virus, whether they are N95 masks or surgical masks.

Why wear surgical masks?

COVID-19 is a virus that did not previously exist in nature. It means that our collective immune systems aren't ready for it. Unlike the seasonal flu, which almost, if not all, people have already been exposed to - there’s no available vaccine for the novel coronavirus. What’s more concerning about this new virus is that all health workers and other frontliners who are battling the virus today have no protection at all aside from their PPE.

People know that flu season takes place over a period of several months. But COVID-19 has spread rapidly, infected hundreds of thousands and killed many across the world, in just a matter of months. It is thought that about 25% of those who are infected are asymptomatic and feel perfectly fine, which means they don’t know that they’re infected. You could very well be one of them. Given that, it’s useful to wear masks to protect others from your germs.

How can surgical masks protect you?

As mentioned earlier, surgical masks and even homemade face masks can protect others from your germs. They also provide some level of protection from incoming microbes depending on the quality and fit of the material used. As long as you also wash your hands properly and you practice social distancing, any mask will help when it comes to increasing your chances of avoiding the virus. That being said, some are better than others. Browse our face masks for sale and find one that has the features you want and best fits your budget.

Do's and don't's of masks

Before you put on the mask, make sure that you wash your hands first. Use the ear ties or loops when securing or removing the surgical mask. You also have to avoid touching its fabric part since it serves as the germ filter. The mask should cover from near the bridge of your nose then under your chin and it should also stretch at least halfway toward your ears. Pull the loops and ties so it fits snugly against your face.

Wearing masks outdoors

It’s highly recommended to wear a mask every time you go outdoors since you don’t know who’s infected and who’s not. Whether you’re going on a supply run or for a morning jog, if you will be around potentially infected crowds then wearing a mask is important.

Wearing masks indoors

You only need to wear a surgical mask inside your home if you are living with someone who is sick. The patient should stay in a separate room and must have minimal or no contact with the rest of the household. If possible, the patient should also use a separate bathroom.

Overview of surgical masks

Surgical masks are disposable, loose-fitting face masks that create a barrier between the noose and the mouth of the wearer and possible microbes in his or her immediate environment. They are not to be shared and must not be used more than once. If your mask is soiled or damaged, or if you find it difficult to breathe while the mask is on, then you should remove it, discard it correctly, and get a new one. Proper disposal of masks means placing them in a plastic bag before putting it in the trash. Don’t forget to wash your hands after handling the used surgical mask.

Masks are available in different quality of filters, with varying ability to protect its wearer from getting in contact with liquids. If worn correctly, a surgical mask can blog large particle droplets, sprays, splatters, and splashes that may contain bacteria and viruses, which prevents it from reaching your nose and mouth. They also help lower the chances of others getting exposed to your respiratory secretions and saliva.

Even though surgical masks can block large droplets, they cannot filter extremely small particles in the air that could be transmitted by sneezes or coughs. They don’t provide complete protection and they can never provide the level of prevention offered by proper handwashing.

If you want the best protection that is considered affordable, consider using an FFP2 or FFP3 mask. We have masks for sale here at UK Meds. 

Although surgical masks are indeed helpful in reducing your risk of getting or spreading the virus, there are other preventive measures that you need to do always. These include handwashing and social distancing. Avoid touching your face and cover your nose with a tissue when you are sneezing or coughing. Consider using hand sanitiser if you are unable to wash your hands regularly. Finally, use a surface cleaner disinfectant to kill viruses and bacteria on surfaces such as tables and countertops.