Wearing a mask and other personal protection equipment (PPE) to protect us against the coronavirus has become part of daily life for both healthcare professionals and the rest of the population. While wearing a mask is one of the most important protective measures we have to prevent further infection, there are still many misconceptions about the effectiveness and proper use. We’re here to clear up some of the most common misconceptions.
This information, which may have been propagated through some media outlets, is false. Many individuals are asymptomatic, which means they don’t show any visible symptoms, but can still transmit the disease. Some people have the virus and can infect others well before they begin showing symptoms. Authors of a study conducted at the University of Bern in Switzerland have stated that a person “with either asymptomatic or presymptomatic SARS-COV-2 infection can still transmit the virus.” For this reason, everyone must wear a mask in public.
You may not think you need to wear a mask if you’ve received a positive antibody test or had the virus already. However, with the limited data we have, we’re still not sure that people who’ve had the virus have immunity, and if they do, how long it lasts. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) currently state that there is no evidence to suggest COVID-19 infection imparts immunity.
According to a study published in the journal Annals of the American Thoracic Society, wearing surgical masks or cloth face coverings does not cause a dangerous buildup of carbon dioxide, nor does it restrict the amount of oxygen an individual breathes. A mask that is properly fitted allows adequate airflow when covering your mouth and nose. However, the WHO says you should not wear a mask while exercising because “sweat can make the mask become wet more quickly which makes it difficult to breathe and promotes the growth of microorganisms.”
To prevent the spread of COVID-19, it’s imperative to wear a mask properly. According to the WHO, masks should be used as part of a comprehensive strategy of measures to suppress transmission and save lives; however, the use of a mask alone is not sufficient to provide an adequate level of protection against COVID-19. Here are the basics of wearing a mask:
● Cover both your nose and mouth
● Fit snugly but comfortably against the sides of the face
● Be secured with ties or ear loops
● Allow for unrestricted breathing
If there is one thing for certain, it’s that PPE is helping in the fight against COVID-19. Knowing the facts is half the battle, so stay informed and we’ll eventually win this war together.
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