The use of face masks
Does the use of face masks prevent and stop covid 19?
Face Masks in Combating COVID-19
Face masks have been used to slow down the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus), a contagious respiratory disease that infects humans. The virus spreads from one person to another through infected air droplets of an infected person projected during coughing or sneezing. The virus can also be transmitted when humans contact hands or surfaces contaminated with the virus, and then they touch their eyes, nose, and mouth with the contaminated hands. The governments recommended using face masks to avoid the contagion from an infected person to others and protect the wearer from infected environments. These face masks include surgical masks and cloth masks. A shortage of face masks has led to uncertified face masks. This paper evaluates whether the use of face masks prevents and stops COVID-19.
Wearing face masks in public, especially in places where social distancing is challenging to maintain, such as public transportation and salons, will most likely prevent the spread of the viral loaded droplets from an infected person to other people. The government requires public transport operators to refuse to board anyone not wearing a mask for the entire journey. A report released by CDC found that face masks prevented coronavirus in a Springfield, Missouri, hair salon where two hairstylists were infected with the virus, and 139 clients had been potentially exposed to the stylists. Still, the clients were not infected as they wore face masks throughout (Mahase, 2020); thus, face masks have helped prevent coronavirus spread.
Wearing masks also have helped prevent the spread of COVID-19 from asymptomatic person to healthy people. Asymptomatic people develop coronavirus symptoms few days after infection. During this period, wearing a mask by the asymptomatic individuals, will block most respiratory droplets they are exhaling. The spread of the virus goes down in places where people wear masks, as the face mask also prevents the infected droplets from traveling fast when the asymptomatic person coughs or sneezes. CDC has reviewed the latest science and affirms that wearing face masks has prevented the virus’s spread. The reviews included a case study from the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), which showed that adherence to the wearing of face masks reduced SARS-CoV-2 transmission within the Boston hospital system.
Adriaan, Bax Distinguished Investigator, found that wearing masks increases the humidity in the air one inhales and proposes that the respiratory tract’s resulting hydration could be responsible for the documented findings that link reduced COVID-19 disease cases (Wang, Tang, & Lv, 2020). High humidity has been associated with reduced severity of flu. Researchers also claim that respiratory viruses such as influenza follow a seasonal pattern, increasing in the winter season, thus applicable to COVID-19, too and this helps prevent coronavirus (Courtney & Bax, 2021).
Scientists have argued that face masks and respirators do not work in preventing respiratory diseases such as COVID-19. Scientists explain that long-residence-time particle (<2.5) micrometers are too fine to be blocked, and the minimum effective dose is smaller than one aerosol atom. Such small particles (<2.5) micrometers are part of the air fluidity and are subjected to gravitational sedimentation; thus would not be stopped by long-term inertial impact. The slightest facial movement of a mask renders the design filtration by a face mask irrelevant (Tcharkhtchi et al., 2021). The recommended face mask N95 (pore size 0.3-0.5 micrometers) does not block viral particles; thus, face masks do not prevent or stop coronavirus.
Mask does not prevent and stop COVID-19, especially in cold weather, as they may become wet from breathing or snow. A damp face mask is difficult to breathe through and less efficient in preventing respiratory droplets from passing through. It allows respiratory droplets to escape around the edges; thus, when worn by an infected person with the coronavirus, the chances of spreading to other healthy people are high.
Wearing masks alone does not prevent COVID-19; thus World Health Organization (WHO) laid out a list of measures to reduce the virus’s spread. These measures include maintaining social distances in public places, washing hands with soap and water regularly, and wearing masks. If one does not observe all the actions, they are at a greater risk of acquiring the virus even if they wear face masks.
Research has shown that people feel safer with face masks. It gives them a false sense of safety, leading to ignorance of the other safety measures like frequent washing of hands and maintaining social distances. Research by HEROS, a charity for National Health Service workers, has shown that a new provider of face masks has given the majority of the people to feel safer when wearing face masks in public and seeing other people wearing masks.
In summary, masks are to be used together with maintaining social distance and constant washing of hands. The feeling of safety brought about when people wear face masks shows that the face masks’ inefficiency to stop COVID-19 as people will fail to observe other safety measures. However, face masks increase humidity in the air inhaled and makes respiratory tract hydrated and this prevents and stop coronavirus. Wearing masks in public places has helped prevent the virus’s spread by blocking infected air droplets of an infected person from getting to others.
Courtney, J. M., & Bax, A. (2021). Hydrating the respiratory tract: an alternative explanation why masks lower severity of COVID-19. Biophysical Journal, 120(6), 994-1000.
Mahase, E. (2020). Covid-19: Evidence for cloth masks.
Tcharkhtchi, A., Abbasnezhad, N., Seydani, M. Z., Zirak, N., Farzaneh, S., & Shirinbayan, M. (2021). An overview of filtration efficiency through the masks: Mechanisms of the aerosols penetration. Bioactive materials, 6(1), 106-122.
Wang, J., Tang, K., Feng, K., & Lv, W. (2020). High temperatures and humidity reduce the transmission of COVID-19. Available at SSRN 3551767.