What We Know About Face Masks And COVID-19
As lockdown measures begin to be relaxed here in the UK, more and more people are looking to facemasks to provide them with some form of protection from the virus.
From surgical facemasks, dust particle masks that you’d expect to see on a construction site and even homemade fabric masks, you can’t pop to the local supermarket without seeing a variety of different coverings.
But are they effective in reducing the risk of contracting COVID-19?
Although the UK government has been a little ambiguous about what the general public should be doing in terms of facemasks, medical evidence shows that along with regular handwashing and social distancing, facemasks can help to reduce the infection rate of the UK population. A new study conducted in Hong Kong has claimed that wearing a mask could be 75% more effective at prohibiting the spread of the virus, though it has yet to be tested with humans.
Not only do they stop particles entering the nearby atmosphere, but the visual cue that a facemask offers reminds others to keep to the recommended safe distance and wash their hands at regular intervals. However, not all facemasks are created equal.
Often seen in hospitals, GP surgeries and care homes, surgical masks are disposable and protect the mouth and nose of the wearer from droplets and spray from other people.
These masks protect others by filtering the tiny particles created by saliva and respiratory secretions, but several need to be used every day if at work or spending more time out in public places. The use of surgical masks is also not recommended for the general public, in order not to place undue strain on supplies for the NHS.
Washable antibacterial facemasks
Effective in the fight against the Coronavirus and kinder to the environment, washable antibacterial facemasks are becoming the PPE of choice in public spaces and workplaces alike due to the fact that they are cost-effective and easy to clean and re-use.
Our own Wearwell range of new washable antibacterial facemasks uses silver ion antimicrobial technology to provide protection against bacterial growth and airborne germs. These masks are 99.9% effective against bacterial pathogens and offer excellent value for money due to their reusable nature.
A type of respirator, an N95 mask offers a high level of protection as it filters out particles each time the wearer inhales and releases unfiltered air when the wearer exhales.
As the name might suggest, N95 masks are designed to block 95% of all airborne particles, but they can also be uncomfortable to wear for long periods due to the materials used and are currently in short supply.
N95 masks are also disposable and there are currently no widely accepted guidelines on how to disinfect them for reuse, making them expensive to purchase in large quantities.