Why wearing a mask is an important thing
The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped life as we all know it. Many of us are staying house, avoiding people on the street and altering daily habits, like going to school or work, in ways we by no means imagined.
While we are changing old behaviours, there are new routines we need to adopt. First and foremost is the habit of wearing a mask or face covering whenever we are in a public space.
Based mostly on our prior work in outbreaks of infectious illnesses, we know that clear, constant messages about what individuals can do to protect themselves and their neighborhood are critical. By that measure, the messaging on masks has been confusing.
Early within the pandemic, most of the people was told to not wear masks. This was pushed by the longstanding recognition that commonplace surgical masks (additionally called medical masks) are inadequate to protect the wearer from many respiratory pathogens, as well as the concern about diverting restricted provides from healthcare settings.
Science is the pursuit of knowledge and understanding, and it inevitably adjustments the way in which we see the world. Because of the tireless efforts of scientists all over the place, we have now compressed years of analysis on the COVID-19 virus into months. This has led to a fast evolution of insurance policies and recommendations, and not surprisingly some skepticism in regards to the advice of experts.
These are a few of the things we’ve discovered:
Masks and face coverings can prevent the wearer from transmitting the COVID-19 virus to others and should provide some protection to the wearer. Multiple studies have shown that face coverings can contain droplets expelled from the wearer, which are accountable for the majority of transmission of the virus. This ‘supply control’ approach displays a shift in thinking from a ‘medical’ perspective (will it protect the wearer?) to a ‘public health’ perspective (will it help reduce community transmission and risk for everyone?).
Many individuals with COVID-19 are unaware they are carrying the virus. It’s estimated that 40% of individuals with COVID-19 are asymptomatic but doubtlessly able to transmit the virus to others. Within the absence widespread screening tests, we now have no means of identifying many people who are silently transmitting the virus in their community.
Universal mask use can significantly reduce virus transmission in the community by preventing anyone, together with those that are unwittingly carrying the virus, from transmitting it to others. Illness modeling suggests masks worn by significant parts of the population, coupled with other measures, could result in substantial reductions in case numbers and deaths.
Masks will not be excellent boundaries to transmission, however they don’t have to be good if they aren’t used alone. Universal mask use ought to be accompanied by other public health measures reminiscent of physical distancing, testing, contact tracing and restrictions on giant gatherings. Those measures aren’t good both, however when many imperfect measures are combined at a community degree, they are often very effective at slowing transmission and reducing infections.
Masks may also reduce the inequitable impact of the pandemic, particularly for those who live in crowded environments where physical distancing is difficult, and for individuals who work in frontline roles the place there’s a greater risk of publicity to the virus.
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