With a number of countries moving to ease lock down restrictions, face masks are becoming the new norm. In Austria, people now have to wear face mask when shopping. In Germany, vending machines at train stations are being stocked up with masks in a bid to help curb the spread of corona virus among commuters. Officials in the UK, though, have stopped short of recommending widespread use of face masks. Until now. On April 28, Scotlands first minister Nicola Sturgeon advised the Scottish public to wear face masks in public spaces where space is too limited to follow social distancing rules.
Across the world, face masks are increasingly viewed as a step out of lock down, with some countries mandating them in public. Despite Sturgeons recent comments, the rest of the UK still isn’t following suit. So, what gives? It’s a complicated and controversial question. There have been concerns that people will rush to buy medical-grade masks causing the NHS to face even greater supply shortages, and that masks could create a false sense of security and lead to a lapse in social distancing. It is also unclear whether or not face masks actually protect individuals against the novel corona virus.
Face Masks: How to Wear, Remove, and Make Your Own
Face coverings are recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Since there is a portion of the population who are infected but not showing symptoms (asymptomatic), the CDC recommends that everyone wears a face covering when in public at all times. Face coverings and masks are meant to protect people from getting infected while in public. They help prevent harmful air particles from entering the mouth and nose.
Surgical Masks are used in healthcare settings and should not be used by the general public. They fit across the nose and mouth, shielding against large droplets in the air. Surgical masks are too loose to protect against all germs, nor will they block the smallest particles that may carry coronavirus. N95 Respirator Masks (also known as medical respirator masks) are tight-fitting respirator masks that reduce exposure to particles including small particle aerosols and large droplets. N95 masks filter out at least 95% of airborne particles.
The scientific debate over the use of face masks to prevent the spread of corona virus is also revealing a double standard, says Babak Javid, a professor at the Tsinghua University School of Medicine in Beijing and a consultant in infectious diseases at Cambridge University Hospitals. Despite the lack of trials looking at how different hand-washing practices stop the spread of corona virus, governments and health institutions still advocated the 20-second rule. There have been similar sorts of [laboratory] studies for hand washing, and they’re equally disappointing, He says adding that there have also been no trials to test the two-metre social distancing rule in public.