Can putting on a medical face mask protect you against the new coronavirus? It’s a matter so many people are asking, including dog owners that are putting canine face masks on the dogs. If it’s an ordinary surgical face mask, the correct answer is no, Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, told Live Science.
A much more specialized mask, known as an N95 respirator, can protect against the new coronavirus, also called SARS-CoV-2. The respirator is thicker compared to a surgical mask, but neither Schaffner nor the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) recommend it for public use, a minimum of not at this particular point. That’s because, to some extent, it’s challenging to wear these masks and use them for long time periods, he explained.
Specialists receive retraining annually regarding how to properly fit these respirators round the nose, cheeks and chin, making certain wearers don’t breathe around the edges in the respirator. “When you do that, it ends up that this work of breathing, since you’re experiencing a really thick material, is harder. You have to work to breathe out and in. It’s a bit claustrophobic. It can get moist and hot in there,” Schaffner said.
“I know which i can use them when I need to for around one half-hour,” he added. “But then, I need to go out of the isolation room, take it off and try taking a little deep breaths, kind of cool off, before I can go back in.”
While it still might be easy to snag an N95 respirator online, Schaffner advised against it. If too many people unnecessarily stockpile respirators, a shortage could put the healthiness of medical workers and people who need them in danger, Schaffner said.
Surgical masks – The thinner surgical mask is meant for surgeons, because these products do a good job of keeping pathogens through the doctor’s nose and mouth from entering the surgical field, Schaffner said.
In a few Asian countries, like Japan and China, it’s not uncommon to see people wearing surgical masks in public areas to protect against pathogens and pollution. But those masks don’t help much inside the context of the virus, Schaffner said. “They’re not designed to keep out viral particles, and they’re not as tightly fitted around your nose and cheeks” as being an N95 respirator, he stated.
“Could they be of some use? Yes, but the effect may very well be modest,” Schaffner said.
He noted that some people wear surgical masks because they are sick using a cold or perhaps the flu and they don’t need to get others sick. However, if you’re sick, it’s best just not to visit public areas. “That’s time to keep home,” Schaffner said.
People sick with COVID-19, however, should wear face masks to reduce the risk of infection to people around them, based on the CDC. Healthcare workers and those “taking care of someone contaminated with COVID-19 in close settings (at home or in a healthcare facility),” should also wear face masks, the CDC reported.
People wearing surgical masks should dump them after each use, the CDC added.
Otherwise, the easiest method to avoid getting the coronavirus is to, first and foremost, postpone any travel to places with known outbreaks. You can also thoroughly wash the hands with soap; avoid touching the eyes, nose and mouth xfsvee unwashed hands; avoid close contact with those who are sick; and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces, the CDC recommends.
As for dog owners putting face masks on the dogs, a Pomeranian dog in Hong Kong tested positive a “weak positive” for COVID-19. That dog has become in quarantine, however is not showing signs of the condition, according to a March 5 piece within the South China Morning Post. However, it’s unclear how the dog was tested for that illness. What’s more, it doesn’t appear that pets can transmit the virus to humans, and experts told individuals with pets to not panic.