Can wearing a medical face mask protect you against the new coronavirus? It’s a question lots of people are asking, including animal owners that are putting canine face masks on the dogs. If it’s a regular surgical face mask, the answer is no, Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, told Live Science.
A more specialized mask, known as an N95 respirator, can protect against the new coronavirus, also known as SARS-CoV-2. The respirator is thicker compared to a surgical mask, but neither Schaffner nor the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) recommend it for public use, a minimum of not around this point. That’s because, partly, it’s challenging to wear these masks and put them on for long periods of time, he said.
Specialists receive retraining annually on how to properly fit these respirators around the nose, cheeks and chin, making sure wearers don’t breathe across the edges from the respirator. “When you do that, it ends up that this work of breathing, since you’re dealing with an extremely thick material, is harder. You have to work to breathe out and in. It’s a bit claustrophobic. It can get moist and hot inside,” Schaffner said.
“I know that I can wear them when I need to for about a half-hour,” he added. “But then, I have to go from the isolation room, remove it and try taking some deep breaths, kind of cool off, before I can go back in.”
While it still might be possible to snag an N95 respirator online, Schaffner advised against it. If a lot of people unnecessarily stockpile respirators, a shortage could put the health of medical workers and those that need them in danger, Schaffner said.
Surgical masks – The thinner surgical mask is meant for surgeons, because these products conduct a good job of keeping pathogens through the doctor’s nose and mouth from entering the surgical field, Schaffner said.
In some Asian countries, including Japan and China, it’s not uncommon to see people wearing surgical masks in public places to protect against pathogens and pollution. But those masks don’t help much within the context of a virus, Schaffner said. “They’re not made to keep out viral particles, and they’re not nearly as tightly fitted around your nose and cheeks” being an N95 respirator, he explained.
“Could they be of some use? Yes, however the effect may very well be modest,” Schaffner said.
He noted that some individuals wear surgical masks since they are sick with a cold or perhaps the flu plus they don’t would like to get others sick. However, if you’re sick, it’s best just not to attend public areas. “That’s the time to keep home,” Schaffner said.
People sick with COVID-19, however, should wear face masks to lessen the potential risk of infection to people around them, based on the CDC. Healthcare workers and people “looking after someone infected with COVID-19 in close settings (at home or in a healthcare facility),” also needs to wear face masks, the CDC reported.
People wearing surgical masks should get rid of them after each use, the CDC added.
Otherwise, the best way to avoid getting the coronavirus is always to, first of all, postpone any go to places with known outbreaks. You can also thoroughly wash both hands with soap; avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth xfsvee unwashed hands; avoid close contact with people who are sick; and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces, the CDC recommends.
In terms of pet owners putting face masks on their dogs, a Pomeranian dog in Hong Kong tested positive a “weak positive” for COVID-19. That dog is currently in quarantine, however is not showing signs of the disease, according to a March 5 piece within the South China Morning Post. However, it’s unclear the way the dog was tested for that illness. What’s more, it doesn’t appear that pets can transmit the virus to humans, and experts told people who have pets never to panic.