Face masks flying off shelves in Odisha. Are they effective to prevent coronavirus infection?

Bhubaneswar: Face masks and hand sanitizers are fast flying off the shelves of shopping malls and provision stores in Odisha as novel coronavirus (nCoV) or COVID-19 scare has almost taken all and sundry into its grip.

The latest reports confirming 31 cases of coronavirus in India alone have turned the people of Odisha pale feet.

They are following all precautionary measures that have been issued nationwide to beat the COVID-19 scare. Face masks and hand sanitizers have apparently topped the chart.

“No medicine or vaccine is available for the killer virus. it has claimed nearly 3000 lives in Wuhan, China. Moreover, 31 persons have tested positive for the novel coronavirus across India. It might spread to Odisha too. We need to be careful and take preventive measures. For that, we are looking for face masks and hand sanitizers. But, It’s out of stock in all the stores,” said Puspanjali Mishra, a city resident.

Pic Courtesy: delaware online

Escalating demand for face masks has boomed their production and hence the cost in the state. Although their usage has been strongly recommended for the people showing symptoms of the infection, researchers have recently stated that face masks are not the most effective tools to fight coronavirus.

However, using high-quality face masks like N95 respirators may help evade the maximum possibilities of the infection.

The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that the N95 respirator face masks have proven to protect users from the COVID-19 better than random surgical masks by filtering out at least 95% of very small (0.3 microns) particles including bacteria and viruses.

Explaining why N95 masks are better than surgical and other face masks, the CDC said, “When properly fitted and worn, minimal leakage occurs around edges of the respirator when the user inhales air. This means almost all of the air is directed through the filter media.”

As the people in the state as swarming over the face-mask counters to purchase masks for themselves, here are the most effective ways to use them (preferably N95 masks) to gain maximum benefits:

  • Clean hands with alcohol-based hand soaps and water or alcohol-based sanitizers before putting the mask on.
  • Cover mouth and nose with the mask properly and make sure no gaps remain between the face and the mask.
  • Properly fit the mask on the face to avoid frequently touching it while using.
  • Clean hands once again before taking the mask off.
  • Take off the mask from behind and avoid toughing it from the front.
  • Replace the mask as soon as it gets damp and avoid re-using it.
  • Dispose of the used mask in a closed bin to avoid spreading the infection.

People who are not infected with the coronavirus need not have to use a mask.

According to CDC, maintaining proper hygiene like cleaning hands with alcohol-based hand soaps frequently, keeping hands off the face and nose, avoiding close contact with the infected people and hiding faces with a handkerchief or tissue paper while coughing or sneezing will do the trick for them.

However, doctors, nurses or any other people attending the infected patients should use at least surgical masks and goggles when in close contact.

Elsewhere, amidst the COVID-19 scare, black marketing of face masks and hand sanitizers have been reported at some places. Addressing that, Odisha Health and Family Welfare Secretary Nikunja Bihari Dhal said, ” There is no need for a healthy person to put on a mask. The Heath department would provide free masks to persons showing flu-like symptoms.”



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