Can wearing a medical face mask protect you from the new coronavirus? It’s an issue so many people are asking, including pet owners who definitely are putting canine face masks on their dogs. If it’s a regular surgical face mask, the correct answer is no, Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, told Live Science.
A much more specialized mask, known as an N95 respirator, can protect against the brand new coronavirus, also referred to 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, at the very least not at this particular point. That’s because, in part, it’s challenging to put on these masks and wear them for long time periods, he explained.
Specialists receive retraining annually on how to properly fit these respirators across the nose, cheeks and chin, making certain wearers don’t breathe across the edges from the respirator. “When you accomplish that, it appears that the work of breathing, since you’re experiencing an extremely thick material, is harder. You need to work to breathe inside and out. It’s a bit claustrophobic. It can get moist and hot inside,” Schaffner said.
“I know i can wear them when I need to for about one half-hour,” he added. “Then again, I have to go out of the isolation room, take it off and take 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 healthiness of medical workers and those who need them in jeopardy, Schaffner said.
Surgical masks – The thinner surgical mask is intended for surgeons, since these products conduct a good job of keeping pathogens from the doctor’s nose and mouth from entering the surgical field, Schaffner said.
In some Asian countries, including Japan and China, it’s not unusual to view people wearing surgical masks in public places to guard against pathogens and pollution. But those masks don’t help much inside the context of the 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” as an N95 respirator, he said.
“Could they be of some use? Yes, however the effect is likely to be modest,” Schaffner said.
He noted that some people wear surgical masks as they are sick with a cold or even the flu plus they don’t would like to get other individuals sick. But when you’re sick, it’s best just not to visit public areas. “That’s the time to stay home,” Schaffner said.
People sick with COVID-19, however, should wear face masks to lessen the risk of infection to individuals around them, according to the CDC. Health care workers and people “looking after someone contaminated with COVID-19 in close settings (at home or in a healthcare facility),” should also 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 having the coronavirus is always to, first of all, postpone any travel to places with known outbreaks. You can also thoroughly wash your hands with soap; avoid touching the eyes, nose and mouth xfsvee unwashed hands; avoid close connection with people who are sick; and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces, the CDC recommends.
In terms of animal owners putting face masks on their own dogs, a Pomeranian dog in Hong Kong tested positive a “weak positive” for COVID-19. That dog is currently in quarantine, but is not showing signs of the disease, according to a March 5 piece in the South China Morning Post. However, it’s unclear the way the dog was tested for your 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.
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