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Connecting Dots Across Asia's Tech and Urban Landscape

Do Face Masks Really Prevent You From Catching Coronavirus?

No. The quick answer is no. Even if you wear a mask on a regular basis, there is no guarantee that you will not be infected with the coronavirus. By doing so, you might be even unconsciously increasing the risk of getting infected.

How so? Let’s boil it down.

No guarantee

According to infection prevention specialist Eli Perencevich, MD,  in an interview, the average healthy person doesn’t need to wear a mask. He said that there is no evidence that healthy people wearing masks will guarantee their safety from the coronavirus.

Wearing a mask may even increase the risk of infection in two ways.

First, if the mask is worn improperly, there is an increased likelihood for people to touch their faces to adjust the mask. At the same time, there will be gaps where viruses can come in.

Second, wearing a mask provides a false sense of security. According to Dr. Perencevich, if a person is wearing a mask but isn’t washing their hands properly especially when they remove or wear a mask, the risk of getting infected increases.

How to prevent getting infected

According to Dr. Karen Fleming, the best way to prevent coronavirus is to regularly wash your hands with soap and water. She said that the coronavirus is an “enveloped virus,” meaning it is surrounded by a fat layer. This layer of fat can be dissolved by soap and water and eliminate the virus.

Other precautionary measures that can be undertaken as per the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) include avoiding touching your nose, mouth, or eyes with your hands. Avoiding contact with sick people and regular disinfection of frequently touched surfaces are also recommended.

Social distancing, by trying to stay home as much as possible and postponing travel, especially to areas where there are known COVID-19 cases should also be considered, according to CDC.

When to wear masks

One scenario where you do need to wear a mask is when you are taking care of someone sick. This is to avoid the transfer of droplets which may contain the virus.

Healthcare professionals are also in need of wearing a mask. The problem is, there is a shortage in specialised masks. This is partly due to the overhoarding of masks, apart from the natural increase in demand.

It should be kept in mind though, that these masks are needed to keep the virus in, that is, to prevent a sick person from spreading the disease further. As much as our personal safety is important, we must understand that there is also a need for the people around us to be healthy and protected if we want to put the spread of this outbreak to a complete halt. At the same time, we need to make sure that the professionals who are tending to the sick are also well and protected.

“We’ve got to protect our healthcare workers because they’re the ones who are going to take care of us if we get sick,” according to Dr. Perencevich.

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