Should you wear a face mask when you are about to reduce the risk of coronavirus infection?
Is it worth putting one on when you are in good health or is it only recommended for people who feel sick?
What type of mask should you wear and can you wear your own with an old scarf or bandana?
The COVID-19 era face mask problem has been confusing, complicated and contradictory, but as the number of cases increases in Melbourne and Sydney, more and more Australians are choosing to wear one to be safe. security.
Here is everything you need to know to cover yourself when you go out.
SHOULD YOU WEAR IT?
The official advice from Australia’s chief medical officer, Professor Paul Kelly, is that wearing a face mask is not necessary.
A new warning was added last week following the second devastating wave of coronavirus in Melbourne.
Professor Kelly said that people living in Greater Melbourne who cannot remain socially distant while traveling for essential reasons should wear a mask.
But for the rest of Australia, this is not a general recommendation – and it is something that a growing number of health experts do not agree with.
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Professor Mark L. Wahlqvist, chief of medicine at Monash University, said that “the value of wearing masks is clear”.
“It was recognized (very early) that the virus could behave in the form of an aerosol through human releases and in particular in polluted atmospheres,” said Professor Wahlqvist.
“It was and is therefore necessary to use masks to protect yourself and others.
“The advice in Australia was confused because it was not disclosed and it becomes clear that it was due to a shortage at first and then to the false claim that the masks were of limited value.”
If the confusing issue of wearing a mask had been addressed early and honestly, he believed that Australia could have avoided strict blockages and serious health, economic and social consequences.
“We can still turn the tide by recommending and overcoming cultural reservations about the use of masks, as well as through a policy that promotes them with due regard for affordability and sustainable disposal.”
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There are still many scientists who do not know about the coronavirus, but research indicates that it is likely to spread via very small particles, said associate microbiologist Taghrid Istivan of RMIT University.
In addition, it seems that these particles can remain in the atmosphere or be pushed further with drafts, and probably with air conditioning systems.
“Therefore, (face masks are) not only recommended for infected people to stop the spread of the virus, but also to prevent healthy people from being infected by inhaling the virus-carrying particles,” said the associate professor. Istivan.
Advice published this week by the Centers for Disease Control in the United States reveals that according to its best estimate, 40% of people infected with COVID-19 have no symptoms.
“As the focus is now on airborne transmission, in addition to contact transmission, public awareness and clear guidelines on the proper and effective use of masks must be taken into account,” said -he declares.
WHAT IS THE BEST?
No type of face mask offers complete and perfect protection against infectious diseases, said epidemiologist Dr. Abrar Ahmad Chughtai of UNSW.
“How a mask filters droplets from coughs and sneezes that carry the coronavirus depends on a number of factors, including the nature of the mask itself and how it is used,” wrote Dr. Chughtai.
But one of the best options for members of the public is a surgical mask, as you have generally seen worn in hospitals, he said.
Studies show that they are effective in filtering out particles from coughing and sneezing. They can be purchased in pharmacies or online.
“Thread them by holding them by the earrings and hanging them on the ears,” said Dr. Chughtaiex.
“Make sure to cover the nose and lower them under the chin. Pinch the bridge to ensure a good seal around the top of the nose. “
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In some regions, the stock of available masks remains limited after a shortage of supplies in the early stages of the pandemic.
This is why many people choose to buy reusable cloth masks – or even make their own.
Although they often come in interesting and fashionable fabrics, they are not a new phenomenon and have been used throughout history, said Dr. Chughtai.
“While it is generally accepted that cloth masks do not filter out cough and sneeze particles as well as surgical masks, new evidence shows that there are several things to watch out for when choosing or making of a cloth mask.
“Use two or three layers of fabric. Choose a fabric with a high number of threads – so a tighter weaving, for example, from a good quality sheet is generally better than a fabric (mask) with a looser weaving that you can clearly see through the light.
“Fabrics made from more than one type of yarn, such as cotton – silk, cotton – chiffon or cotton – flannel, can be good choices because they provide better filtration and are more comfortable to wear.”
Make sure a cloth mask fits properly and seals the face well, he said.
“Cloth masks have the additional advantage of not running out of stocks for health workers and can be reused. You can wash them with soap and water or household detergents, or preferably in a washing machine at 60 ° C. Put the mask in an isolated place until you can wash it. “
WHAT SHOULD YOU AVOID?
There have been examples of people making their own face covers with existing wardrobe clothing, such as scarves or bandanas.
Dr. Chughtai said this should be an absolute last resort, as it is often difficult to get a good fit and the materials from which they are made tend to have a loose weave.
There are also no studies on the effectiveness of a scarf or bandana wrapped around the mouth and nose to reduce the risk of infection.
“But with many cases of COVID-19 occurring without symptoms, a bandana or scarf can provide some protection and prevent the spread of infection in sick people.”
Finally, he reiterated that any measure aimed at reducing the risks must be combined with good hand hygiene and physical distancing.