TIMESOFINDIA.COM | Last updated on – Jul 21, 2020, 13:26 IST
01/5You may need to STOP wearing valved N-95 masks: Experts
When the news of the COVID-19 being declared a pandemic first broke, hand sanitizers, aerosol disinfectants and face masks started flying off the shelves overnight. People had especially started hoarding medical masks including the N-95 respirators (which were touted to provide the most protection against the contagion) in a bid to keep themselves protected from the highly contagious virus. However, it has been more than six months since the outbreak first emerged in Wuhan, China and it is safe to say that we have learnt a bit more about how the virus transmits and circulates.
02/5What is the function of an N-95 valved mask
While the use of face-covers and face masks is still highly encouraged, it is the valved N-95 masks that are drawing the heat. Any N-95 mask with a valve is essentially made with a raised plastic disk which is embedded in the fibre. The function of the valve is to filter the air inhaled by the wearer for comfortable breathing and to prevent him from breathing in the pathogens suspended in the air. However, while these masks with valves may have come handy when the air pollution levels went soaring in the metros, they spell nothing but trouble during the pandemic.
03/5How do valved masks lead to the spread of novel coronavirus
Any N-95 mask which has a raised plastic gasket stitched in its fibre is actually used to filter the air when you breathe in (100 per cent filtration during the inhalation), however when you breathe out, the air does not get filtered again and it goes as is outside. Hence, if you are an asymptomatic carrier of the novel coronavirus, it becomes very easy for you to infect others, by releasing the unfiltered exhaled air in the immediate surroundings. This happens because these valves do not filter the air you have exhaled and the expelled air is pushed out quickly from the valve, which is actually a one-way valve.
04/5N-95 valved masks “do not prevent coronavirus from escaping out of the mask”
The experts in the health industry have been warning against the inappropriate usage of valved masks as they can lead to the release of unfiltered exhaled air which makes it difficult to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. This is why it is extremely important to prevent the incorrect usage of N-95 respirators, especially those containing valves.
Doctor Rajiv Garg, Director-General of Health Services addressed this crucial issue and wrote a letter to all states and Union Terrorities to encourage the use of homemade face covers and face masks and note how valved masks do not contain the spread of the coronavirus.
He wrote, “It is to bring to your knowledge that the use of valved respirator N-95 masks is detrimental to the measures adopted for preventing the spread of coronavirus as it does not prevent the virus from escaping out of the mask. I request you to instruct all to follow the use of face/mouth cover and prevent inappropriate use of N-95 masks.”
05/5“Never share the face cover with anyone”: Govt advisory
“Never share the face cover with anyone. Every member in a family should have separate face cover,” the advisory stated.
Pointers to keep in mind:
The fabric should be washed well in boiling water for five minutes and dried well before making the face cover. Adding salt to this water is recommended, as per the government advisory.
It also listed the procedures of making such homemade masks, asking to ensure it fits the face well and there are no gaps on the sides.
The number of positive coronavirus cases in India has crossed the 11.55 lakh mark and the contagion has resulted in more than 28,000 fatalities.