Ditch cloth and use N95 masks to fight airborne Covid-19, advises top doctor

A recent study by Lancet suggests a high probability of covid-19 being transmitted through air. Chief of Infectious Diseases at the University of Maryland, Dr Faheem Younus has a piece of advice for everyone to stay safe.
Getting used to the new normal is important. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Geetika Sachdev Published: 19 Apr 2021, 03:31 pm IST
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The second wave of covid-19 is proving to be way more dangerous, which is visible from the number of cases shooting up by the day. The internet is filled with several myths and misconceptions around the virus, but a recent study by medical journal Lancet is credible, and must be paid heed to. According to them, there is strong evidence that the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which is responsible for covid-19, is largely transmitted through the air.

Previously in 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) had discussed the possibility of airborne transmission of coronavirus in closed, poorly ventilated, and crowded places.

This revelation sent down shock waves all over the nation, but not many understand what it means. Award-winning clinician and Chief of Infectious Diseases at the University of Maryland, Dr Faheem Younus, explained in a tweet that airborne does not mean that the air is contaminated. Instead, it means that the virus may remain suspended in the air — typically in indoor settings —and pose a risk”.

He went on to add that parks and beaches are “still the safest places to enjoy without a mask” provided that there is a six-feet distance between two individuals.

Here’s how to keep safe

Dr Younus advises people to buy two N95 or KN95 masks, and ditch cloth masks to deal with the airborne pathogen. “Keep alternating every 24 hours. Reuse for weeks if they aren’t damaged,”he adds.

As per an article in the medical journal Science Advances, the fitted, non-valved N95 masks provide the highest level of protection from airborne infections. The N95 or KN95 masks, as the name suggests, filter 95% of aerosol particles, and have to be worn over the mouth and nose. 

N95 masks
N95 masks can provide the highest level of protection. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidance suggests that these are “single-use,” disposable devices. This means that most of them cannot be washed. Fret not, there are washable N95 masks that are available in the market that can be cleaned from time to time to ensure effectiveness in battling covid. These masks have nose clips, so that it stays in place and protects the wear. 

It’s important to remember that cloth masks are not effective in any way. They are neither tested nor regulated, and health experts say that each type of cloth provides a different level of filtration. 

Cloth masks are the most permeable and offer the least protection, but are better than no mask at all. I have often said that the best mask is the one people are going to wear at all times when out of the home. A KN95 is not better than a surgical mask when you keep taking it off,” says Dr. Eric Cioe-Pena, director of global health at Northwell Health in New Hyde Park, New York.

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So ladies, be extra cautious and use proper N95 masks to stay safe during the pandemic!

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About the Author

An independent writer and journalist, Geetika loves sharp and fresh humour, just like her coffee! If not writing, you'll find her cafe-hopping and raiding the best book stores in town. ...Read More

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