Can putting on a medical face mask protect you against the new coronavirus? It’s a matter lots of people are asking, including animal owners that are putting canine face masks on the dogs. If it’s an ordinary surgical face mask, the reply is no, Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, told Live Science.
A far more specialized mask, called an N95 respirator, can control the new coronavirus, also called SARS-CoV-2. The respirator is thicker than a surgical mask, but neither Schaffner nor the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) recommend it for public use, at the very least not at this particular point. That’s because, in part, it’s challenging to wear these masks and wear them for long periods of time, he stated.
Specialists receive retraining annually regarding how to properly fit these respirators across the nose, cheeks and chin, making certain wearers don’t breathe around the edges of the respirator. “When you accomplish that, it turns out that this work of breathing, since you’re experiencing an extremely thick material, is harder. You have to work to breathe inside and out. It’s a bit claustrophobic. It can get moist and hot in there,” Schaffner said.
“I know that I can put them on when I need to for about one half-hour,” he added. “However, I will need to go from the isolation room, remove it and take some deep breaths, kind of cool off, before I can go back in.”
Even though it still might be easy to snag an N95 respirator online, Schaffner advised against it. If a lot of people unnecessarily stockpile respirators, a shortage could put the fitness of medical workers and people who need them in jeopardy, Schaffner said.
Surgical masks – The thinner surgical mask is intended for surgeons, since these products do a good job of keeping pathogens from 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 view people wearing surgical masks in public places to guard against pathogens and pollution. But those masks don’t help much within the context of a virus, Schaffner said. “They’re not designed to keep out viral particles, and they’re not nearly as tightly fitted around your nose and cheeks” being an N95 respirator, he said.
“Could they be of some use? Yes, but the effect will probably be modest,” Schaffner said.
He noted that some people wear surgical masks because they are sick with a cold or the flu plus they don’t want to get others sick. But if you’re sick, it’s best just not to attend public areas. “That’s time to stay home,” Schaffner said.
People sick with COVID-19, however, should wear face masks to reduce the potential risk of infection to individuals around them, in accordance with the CDC. Medical care workers and the ones “looking after someone infected with COVID-19 in close settings (both at home and 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 simplest way to avoid having the coronavirus is to, first of all, postpone any travel to places with known outbreaks. You can also thoroughly wash both hands with soap; avoid touching your vision, nose and mouth xfsvee unwashed hands; avoid close connection with people who are sick; and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces, the CDC recommends.
In terms of dog owners putting face masks on their own dogs, a Pomeranian dog in Hong Kong tested positive a “weak positive” for COVID-19. That dog has become in quarantine, but is not showing signs and symptoms of the disease, according to a March 5 piece within the South China Morning Post. However, it’s unclear how the dog was tested for your illness. What’s more, it doesn’t appear that pets can transmit the virus to humans, and experts told individuals with pets never to panic.