The second wave of coronavirus has been much worse than last year and at this pace, all one can do is take precautions.
When it comes to taking precautions, wearing a mask is pretty much the first on the list. But even though there are several kinds of masks in the market, they all don't help with the purpose.
Especially N95 masks with exhalation valves or vents.
These masks are actually more harmful then helpful during these times and should be avoided to battle air-borne viruses.
What exactly is the use of an N95 valved mask?
According to the Washington Post, basically valved masks are used so that users can breathe in filtered air and exhale warm, moist air through the valve. These valves reduce heat and moisture inside masks, making them more comfortable to wear for long periods.
Thus, these masks can be used by construction workers to filter out any kind of dust and particles. It can also be used to prevent oneself from air pollution since you receive 100% clean air and exhale the CO2 back into the environment.
But why are these masks harmful during Covid-19 times?
Last year, The Health Ministry indicated that these masks do not prevent viruses from escaping the masks. Basically, if someone wears these, it only protects the person wearing these masks as it does not filter the aerosols coming out. So, the design of the masks doesn't prevent the spread of infectious diseases.
It was also shared that an asymptomatic carrier who has no signs and symptoms of Covid-19 can easily spread the infection to others when the valve releases the unfiltered exhaled air in the immediate surroundings. Moreover, if a person with this virus is in a closed space, it's much easier to transfer the virus. Anupam Sibal, Group Medical Director and Senior Pediatrician, Apollo Hospitals Group said,
If one has COVID-19, theSARS-CoV-2 virus can escape with the unfiltered exhaled air and spread. In many places, such masks have been banned.
What kind of masks should be worn to prevent oneself during Covid-19?
The World Health Organisation, in its guidelines, had suggested that everyone should wear fabric masks (non-medical) in public. These fabrics should be made out of three fabrics namely :
Inner layer of absorbent material, such as cotton.
Middle layer of non-woven non-absorbent material, such as polypropylene.
Outer layer of non-absorbent material, such as polyester or polyester blend.
According to Dr Dhiren Gupta, a senior intensivist at Sir Gangaram Hospital in Delhi, the masks should definitely have a triple-layer and even a medical mask can be used in this case. He asked not to stick to one kind of mask as it gives pressure to the ears.
If you are wearing an N-95 or N-99 mask, make sure it does not have a valve. If your mask has a valve, you can wear a surgical mask over it to block the virus. Also, make sure to wear masks of different designs as one style of mask can create pressure on the ears. Thus, you should consider wearing masks that can be tied at the back of the head as well.
If needed, he advised to wear an N95 mask with a layer of a medical mask on top of it.
During these times of distress taking precautions is a must.