Face Masks Won't Prevent Coronavirus But It Might Increase The Risk Of Infection: Expert

Face Masks Won't Prevent Coronavirus But It Might Increase The Risk Of Infection: Expert

“The one time you would want a mask is if you’re sick and you have to leave the house,” Dr. Perencevich, a professor of medicine and epidemiology said.

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In a bid to keep oneself safe during the coronavirus outbreak, several people step out of their homes donning face masks in hopes that it will prevent them from contracting the deadly infection that has claimed the lives of thousands worldwide. Now, there is a global shortage of masks because people are panicking and stocking up. However, do you think stocking up is the answer? Well, it isn't. According to Forbes, even if there are COVID-19 cases in your community, or if there are cases right next door, you do not need to wear a mask. 



Not only do you not need them you shouldn’t wear them, according to infection prevention specialist Eli Perencevich, MD, a professor of medicine and epidemiology at the University of Iowa’s College of Medicine. “The average healthy person does not need to have a mask, and they shouldn’t be wearing masks,” Dr. Perencevich said. “There’s no evidence that wearing masks on healthy people will protect them. They wear them incorrectly, and they can increase the risk of infection because they’re touching their face more often.” This means that you don't need any of those surgical masks, “N95 masks,” respirator masks, or anything else to protect yourself from the virus. 



You only have to wear a mask if you're feeling sick. Most people that buy masks are not getting one that stops the virus from reaching their mouth or nose. The coronavirus is transmitted through droplets and not through the air. This means you cannot randomly breathe the virus in and infect yourself.  It also means the standard surgical mask you see people wearing will not help. That's because these masks are designed to keep droplets in, and not the other way round. They are designed to help the wearer who is sick to not infect others. “The one time you would want a mask is if you’re sick and you have to leave the house,” Dr. Perencevich said.



“If you have the flu or think you have COVID, that’s when you’d put on a mask to protect others. In your house, if you feel like you’re sick, you should wear a mask to protect your family members.” However, if you are taking care of someone infected with coronavirus, it is advised you wear a mask in close proximity to that person while ensuring that they are wearing a mask, too. Meanwhile, it is best to make sure you consult a health official so they guide you on how to wear a mask correctly. Since there's a shortage of masks, you can head over to an emergency department or the clinic/hospital that diagnosed you and they will help you out. 



The type of mask to protect a wearer from viruses and bacteria is called a respirator.  People who wear respirators would have received proper training on how to make it airtight seal. But even then, “no matter how well a respirator seals to the face and how efficient the filter media is, wearers should expect a small amount of leakage inside any respirators,” 3M notes. “No respirator will eliminate exposures entirely.”  If you don't use a mask correctly or dispose of them incorrectly, that can also increase infection risk because it is literally trapping all the stuff in the air you’re trying to avoid, and many people end up touching their faces absent-mindedly.



“Wearing a mask is tricky because it can create a false sense of security,” Dr. Perencevich said. “If you don’t wash your hands before you take off the mask and after you take off your mask, you could increase your risk.” Even if you use the mask correctly, when you buy them, it will create a shortage for the people who might actually need it more. “The most concerning thing is if our healthcare workers are sick and have to stay home, then we lose the doctors and nurses we need to get through this outbreak,” said Dr. Perencevich, who recently tweeted concerns about the “potential crisis” of N95 respirator scarcity.  


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