Addressing The Common Face Mask Myths

Common face mask misconceptions

In many countries worldwide, wearing a face mask is mandatory in places where social distancing is not possible, like in schools, petrol stations, hair salons, and retail stores. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, this is to help prevent the spread of the recent coronavirus outbreak. However, there is still so much to learn about coronavirus since there is a lot of misinformation circulating about face masks. Here are a few common misconceptions and facts concerning face masks:

Masks can be made from any material

With some people against the whole idea of wearing face masks, there are various sellers online offering lace and mesh masks for purchase. These vendors claim that the masks are more breathable. However, these masks do not fulfil their function of trapping respiratory droplets, which can be passed on through coughing, talking, and sneezing. The best masks are made using a tight-knit material and a filter pocket to prevent respiratory droplets from passing through the mask.

Only sick people should wear face masks

Just because you don’t have any symptoms does not mean you are not sick. According to the CDC, pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic people can still spread the coronavirus, even if they don’t know if they’re sick. To prevent the coronavirus’s spread to others, it is safe to wear a mask any time you are in public or with people who are not from your household. This lowers the risk of spreading respiratory droplets from coughing, talking, and sneezing.

Since the coronavirus lingers in the air long enough for someone to breathe it in, it is advisable to always have a mask on. Wearing it creates a barrier that traps the virus-droplets that might still be in the air. In simpler terms, if you’re not wearing a face mask and you breathe in the same air as an infected person who isn’t wearing a face mask, then you are at a higher risk of being infected too.

Wearing a face mask makes you inhale too much carbon dioxide

Wearing a mask properly means it covers your nose’s bridge, just above your nostrils, and extends down below your chin without leaving any gaps on the sides and completely covering your mouth. Some people suggest that medical face masks trap carbon dioxide that people breathe out and cause them to inhale it in more. WHO, however, says that prolonged use of face masks does not in any way lead to carbon dioxide intoxication.

Moreover, healthcare practitioners have been wearing masks for decades and have never been poisoned from CO2. The feeling some people get from being unable to breathe well is not related to oxygen intake. In case you have anxiety problems while wearing a mask, it is recommended that you practice wearing it for short periods while gradually increasing the duration. The more you have it on, the less you will notice it.

Wearing face masks weakens your immune system

This misconception comes from the idea that the human immune system becomes more potent when exposed to bacteria and other pathogens. However, according to the American Lung Association, there is no evidence that this is true. The fact is wearing a mask and washing your hands will not negatively affect your immune system, especially if you’re an adult with a well-developed immune system.

You don’t need a mask if you’ve had coronavirus before

If you had tested positive for coronavirus before or had a positive result to an antibody test, you may think you do not need to wear a mask. The truth is, at this time, there is no way of knowing whether having coronavirus provides immunity from the disease again or even how long your immunity might last. Therefore, this means that if you do not wear a mask, you could potentially catch the virus again and spread it to others.

You do not need to stay at home if you’re wearing a mask

As you decide about going out, face masks are just one strategy of the various prevention measures against COVID-19. Wearing a mask in public is highly effective and can make you and those around you safe. However, it does not mean that things are back to normal. It is vital to stay home whenever you can to help reduce the spread of the virus.

Cloth masks do not protect you

On the contrary, cloth face masks are useful. They offer a barrier between your nose and mouth and those around you. This makes it difficult for coronavirus droplets to spread through sneezes, coughs, and speaking to other people. The primary use of cloth masks keeps you from unknowingly spreading any diseases to others, and they also indirectly help you avoid touching your face.

You do not have to social distance if you wear a mask

Wearing a mask minimizes your chance of spreading or catching the novel coronavirus; however, it is not enough to use it as your only precaution. Unlike N95 masks that are medically certified, the face masks you purchase or make at home only have one fabric layer instead of three, and most of them do not have a filter. Social distancing means that you are putting more space between you and others, reducing the chances of the virus from spreading.

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Face coverings now compulsory on all public transport in England

From the 15th June 2020, it is compulsory for everyone travelling on public transport in England to wear a face covering.

What is the rule around face masks?

The UK government recently updated its advice regarding the use of face masks to stop the spread of coronavirus, due to a sharp increase of people using public transport in order to commute back to work. The new government guidelines are now in sync with the World Health Organization’s advice.

The new rules apply to England and require anyone travelling by bus, coach, train, tram, Tube, ferry or plane to cover their face while on board.

They exclude school transport, taxis and private hire vehicles – whilst Uber has made face coverings compulsory for its passengers and drivers.

  • Children under the age of 11, disabled people and people with certain health issues are to be exempt from the rule.
  • Hospital visitors and outpatients must also wear face masks.

The main focus of the new measures is to help stop and reduce the asymptomatic people transmitting the virus on to others and also act as a visible reminder of the need for distancing and hygiene measures such as handwashing.

How will the rule be enforced?

The government announced that under new conditions, fines may be issued for anyone seen to be flouting the face-covering rule.

People not wearing a mask or face covering will be asked to wear one or could be refused access to public transport and fined £100.

Some stations are handing out free disposable masks, while45]nnouncements and signage remind commuters of the new rules in force.

Over 3,000 extra staff, including police, have been deployed at stations to enforce the new rules.

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(COVID-19) Advice – When & How to Use Face Masks

When to use a mask

  • Before putting on a face mask, clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with mask and make sure there are no gaps between your face and the mask.
  • Avoid touching the mask while using it; if you do, clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
  • Replace the mask with a new one as soon as it is damp and do not re-use single-use masks.
  • To remove the mask: remove it from behind (do not touch the front of the mask); discard immediately in a closed bin; clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.

When & how to wear medical face masks to protect against coronavirus?

  • If you are healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with COVID-19.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
  • If you wear a mask, then you must know how to use it and dispose of it properly.

How to put on, use, remove and dispose of your face mask

When you should use a face mask

Coronavirus common misconceptions and myths

Currently there are no drugs licensed for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19

While several drug trials are ongoing, there is currently no proof that hydroxychloroquine or any other drug can cure or prevent COVID-19. The misuse of hydroxychloroquine can cause serious side effects and illness and even lead to death. WHO is coordinating efforts to develop and evaluate medicines to treat COVID-19.

Adding peppers or chilies to your soup or other meals DOES NOT prevent or cure COVID-19

Hot peppers or chilies in your food, though very tasty, cannot prevent or cure COVID-19. The best way to protect yourself against the new coronavirus is to keep at least 1 metre away from others and to wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. It is also beneficial for your general health to maintain a balanced diet, stay well hydrated, exercise regularly and sleep well.

COVID-19 CAN NOT be transmitted through houseflies

To date, there is no evidence or information to suggest that the COVID-19 virus transmitted through houseflies. The virus that cause COVID-19 spreads primarily through droplets generated when an infected person coughs, sneezes or speaks. You can also become infected by touching a contaminated surface and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth before washing your hands. To protect yourself, keep at least 1-metre distance from others and disinfect frequently-touched surfaces. Clean your hands thoroughly and often and avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose.

Spraying and introducing bleach or another disinfectant into your body WILL NOT protect you against COVID-19 and can be dangerous

Do not under any circumstance spray or introduce bleach or any other disinfectant into your body. These substances can be poisonous if ingested and cause irritation and damage to your skin and eyes.

Bleach and disinfectant should be used carefully to disinfect surfaces only. Remember to keep chlorine (bleach) and other disinfectants out of reach of children.

Drinking methanol, ethanol or bleach DOES NOT prevent or cure COVID-19 and can be extremely dangerous

Methanol, ethanol, and bleach are poisons. Drinking them can lead to disability and death. Methanol, ethanol, and bleach are sometimes used in cleaning products to kill the virus on surfaces – however you should never drink them. They will not kill the virus in your body and they will harm your internal organs.

To protect yourself against COVID-19, disinfect objects and surfaces, especially the ones you touch regularly. You can use diluted bleach or alcohol for that. Make sure you clean your hands frequently and thoroughly and avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose.

Exposing yourself to the sun or to temperatures higher than 25C degrees DOES NOT prevent the coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

You can catch COVID-19, no matter how sunny or hot the weather is. Countries with hot weather have reported cases of COVID-19. To protect yourself, make sure you clean your hands frequently and thoroughly and avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and nose.

You can recover from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Catching the new coronavirus DOES NOT mean you will have it for life.

Most of the people who catch COVID-19 can recover and eliminate the virus from their bodies. If you catch the disease, make sure you treat your symptoms. If you have cough, fever, and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early – but call your health facility by telephone first. Most patients recover thanks to supportive care.

Being able to hold your breath for 10 seconds or more without coughing or feeling discomfort DOES NOT mean you are free from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) or any other lung disease.

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are dry cough, tiredness and fever. Some people may develop more severe forms of the disease, such as pneumonia. The best way to confirm if you have the virus-producing COVID-19 disease is with a laboratory test.  You cannot confirm it with this breathing exercise, which can even be dangerous.

Drinking alcohol does not protect you against COVID-19 and can be dangerous

Frequent or excessive alcohol consumption can increase your risk of health problems.

COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in areas with hot and humid climates

The best way to protect yourself against COVID-19 is by maintaining physical distance of at least 1 metre from others and frequently cleaning your hands. By doing this you eliminate viruses that may be on your hands and avoid infection that could occur by then touching your eyes, mouth, and nose.

Cold weather and snow CANNOT kill the new coronavirus.

There is no reason to believe that cold weather can kill the new coronavirus or other diseases. The normal human body temperature remains around 36.5°C to 37°C, regardless of the external temperature or weather. The most effective way to protect yourself against the new coronavirus is by frequently cleaning your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or washing them with soap and water.

Taking a hot bath does not prevent the new coronavirus disease

Taking a hot bath will not prevent you from catching COVID-19. Your normal body temperature remains around 36.5°C to 37°C, regardless of the temperature of your bath or shower. Actually, taking a hot bath with extremely hot water can be harmful, as it can burn you. The best way to protect yourself against COVID-19 is by frequently cleaning your hands. By doing this you eliminate viruses that may be on your hands and avoid infection that could occur by then touching your eyes, mouth, and nose.

The new coronavirus CANNOT be transmitted through mosquito bites.

To date there has been no information nor evidence to suggest that the new coronavirus could be transmitted by mosquitoes. The new coronavirus is a respiratory virus which spreads primarily through droplets generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose. To protect yourself, clean your hands frequently with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Also, avoid close contact with anyone who is coughing and sneezing.

Are hand dryers effective in killing the new coronavirus?

No. Hand dryers are not effective in killing the 2019-nCoV. To protect yourself against the new coronavirus, you should frequently clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Once your hands are cleaned, you should dry them thoroughly by using paper towels or a warm air dryer.

Ultra-violet (UV) lamps should not be used to disinfect hands or other areas of your skin

UV radiation can cause skin irritation and damage your eyes.

Cleaning your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or washing your hands with soap and water are the most effective ways to remove the virus.

How effective are thermal scanners in detecting people infected with the new coronavirus?

Thermal scanners are effective in detecting people who have developed a fever (i.e. have a higher than normal body temperature) because of infection with the new coronavirus.

However, they cannot detect people who are infected but are not yet sick with fever. This is because it takes between 2 and 10 days before people who are infected become sick and develop a fever.

Do vaccines against pneumonia protect you against the new coronavirus?

No. Vaccines against pneumonia, such as pneumococcal vaccine and Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) vaccine, do not provide protection against the new coronavirus.

The virus is so new and different that it needs its own vaccine. Researchers are trying to develop a vaccine against 2019-nCoV, and WHO is supporting their efforts.

Although these vaccines are not effective against 2019-nCoV, vaccination against respiratory illnesses is highly recommended to protect your health.

Can regularly rinsing your nose with saline help prevent infection with the new coronavirus?

No. There is no evidence that regularly rinsing the nose with saline has protected people from infection with the new coronavirus.

There is some limited evidence that regularly rinsing nose with saline can help people recover more quickly from the common cold. However, regularly rinsing the nose has not been shown to prevent respiratory infections.

Can eating garlic help prevent infection with the new coronavirus?

Garlic is a healthy food that may have some antimicrobial properties. However, there is no evidence from the current outbreak that eating garlic has protected people from the new coronavirus.

Does the new coronavirus affect older people, or are younger people also susceptible?

People of all ages can be infected by the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV). Older people, and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease) appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus.

WHO advises people of all ages to take steps to protect themselves from the virus, for example by following good hand hygiene and good respiratory hygiene.

Are antibiotics effective in preventing and treating the new coronavirus?

No, antibiotics do not work against viruses, only bacteria.

The new coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a virus and, therefore, antibiotics should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment.

However, if you are hospitalized for the 2019-nCoV, you may receive antibiotics because bacterial co-infection is possible.

Are there any specific medicines to prevent or treat the new coronavirus?

To date, there is no specific medicine recommended to prevent or treat the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

However, those infected with the virus should receive appropriate care to relieve and treat symptoms, and those with severe illness should receive optimized supportive care. Some specific treatments are under investigation, and will be tested through clinical trials. WHO is helping to accelerate research and development efforts with a range or partners.

Face Masks Standards – Filtration Effectiveness & Ratings

Understanding Varying Levels of Face Mask Protection

Face Mask standards will no doubt be confusing to the majority of the general public – surgical masks, respirators, ffp3 or N95? In this post we will cover the main face mask types, mask ratings, and what their effectiveness at filtering particles/contaminates can be.

We will begin by looking at the different mask types and certification types. Generally, there are around 3 or 4 types of the more commonly used disposable face masks. They are single-use face masks, surgical masks, and respirator face masks.

 

Mask TypeStandardsFiltration Effectiveness
Blue Disposable Surgical Face Masks 3 Ply Tie-on - One SizeSingle-Use Face MaskChina: YY/T09693.0 Microns >95%

0.1 Microns > X

 

Green Disposable Surgical Face Masks 3 Ply With Ear Loop - One Size

Surgical Mask

China: YY 04693.0 Microns >95%

0.1 Microns >30%

USA: ASTM F2100Level 1Level 2Level 3
3.0 Microns: >95%

0.1 Microns: 95%

3.0 Microns: >98%

0.1 Microns: 98%

3.0 Microns: >98%

0.1 Microns: >98%

Europe: EN 14683Type 1 Type 2 Type 3
3.0 Microns: >95%

0.1 Microns: X

3.0 Microns: >98%

0.1 Microns: X

3.0 Microns: >98%

0.1 Microns: X

FFP3 N95 Face MaskRespirator MaskUSA: NOSH (42 CFR 84)
China: GB2626
N95 / KN95N99 / KN99N100 / KN100
0.3 Microns: >95%0.3 Microns: >99%0.3 Microns: >99.97%
Europe: EN 149:2001FFP1FFP2FFP3
0.3 Microns: >80%0.3 Microns: 94%0.3 Microns: 95%

3.0 Microns: Bacteria Filtration Efficiency standard (BFE).
0.1 Microns: Particle Filtration Efficiency standard (PFE).
0.3 Microns: Used to represent the most-penetrating particle size (MPPS), which is the most difficult size particle to capture.
X: No requirements.

Standards & Effectiveness Overview

  1. Single-use face masks – These are usually a thin single layer mask primarily used for capturing dust-sized particles and contaminates.
  2. Surgical face mask – These masks have a higher standard of requirement for capturing virus-sized (0.1 microns) particles, but the standards can change by country also.
  3. Respirator face masks capture >90% of virus-sized particles. Browse the rating table above to see the exact proportion each certification requires.

Certifications Change Country by Country

Many countries will use their own standards and certifications for each face mask type. For instance, the EU uses the EN 14683 standard for surgical face masks, but China uses the YY 0469 standard. Each standard varies a little by country, however, they are fairly similar.

Requirements Are Lowest for Single Use Masks

The face mask with the lowest requirements on filtration performance is the single-use face masks (not to be confused with surgical masks). Surgical masks have higher requirements, and respirators face masks have the highest requirements. Respirators masks often have a tighter fit around the face than both surgical masks and single-use face masks.

Rating Levels of Masks – N95, FFP1, FFP2 & FFP3

The ratings are for the filtration level of the face mask, as well as other things.

EN 149:2001+A1:2009 / ASTM F2100 / NIOSH

These are standards for face masks. They outline the rules and testing practices companies follow to rate their face masks. These mask standards define the N95, FFP1, FFP2 and FFP3.