Union Health Ministry said that the use of N-95 masks with valves should be stopped immediately – What type of masks public must use?

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While India is dealing with such a dreadful virus and a race between various pharmaceutical companies in the hope to find vaccine soon. Indian Covid-19 case tally hit the mark of 11.5 lakh today with approx 37,000 fresh cases in the last 24 hours and the death toll rose to 28,084 with 587 fatality reports. Meanwhile, the center has warned all the states and Union territories against the use of N-95 masks with valved respirators by people. The use of face masks or covers has been recommended as the key measure against the spread of coronavirus. But N-95 masks do not prevent the virus from spreading out and are ‘detrimental’ to the measures adopted for its containment. 

Doctor Rajiv Garg, the Director-General of Health Services, in the letter to the Principal Secretary of Health and Medical education of states, claims that it has been observed that there is an inappropriate use of N-95 masks, especially with valved respirators. 

The valved respirators masks with gaskets are only used to protect the wearer from pathogens (a bacteria, virus, or other micro-organisms that cause disease) suspended in the air but is not effective against coronavirus. As these masks have plastic gaskets embedded in the fabric, is a one-way valve which means that it will filter out pathogens from the air you breathe in. but while exhaling it opens up and lets the pathogens escape from the masks.

What is the best type of masks for the general public?

As per the rules and regulations made at the beginning of the pandemic in the country, it said that everyone should wear the mask while going out in public places which will help to prevent the spread of coronavirus among people. Some states have also imposed fines on people who do not wear a mask while they are outside of their residences. But, in the recent discovery, it has been found that wearing the valved respirator N-95 masks can be harmful and may not protect against the virus. Therefore, the ministry urged the public to use home-made face masks instead. People can refer to the advisories written on the website of the Ministry of Health regarding the use of homemade protective covers for face and mouth. 

The advisory suggested such homemade face covers must be washed and cleaned using boiling water for at least 5 minutes after every use to prevent them to get infected. People can use a cotton cloth to cover their face properly and make sure it fits well without leaving any gap on the sides. According to the Indian Council of Medical Research, everyone should wash their hands for almost 20 seconds before wearing the mask and after taking it off. In case they are not able to access soap, the alcohol-based sanitizers can be used. It is also suggested that one must change their masks every 8 hours to prevent the virus and strictly avoid wearing wet masks. 

The guidelines for face covers that are needed to be followed instructed by the Ministry of Health are:-

  1. Use the face cover while going outside of the house which will help to prevent the spread of the virus.
  2. People can use regular homemade masks to cover their faces. But the healthcare and frontline worker, who comes in regular contact with infected people must use proper PPE based face masks
  3. Every person must have at least two face masks so that they can use one while washing another.
  4. The cloth used for face masks should be clean and ensure that it fits the face properly covering the nose, mouth, and no gaps from sides.
  5. Face masks should not be shared even among the family member. Everyone must have their individuals masks.

Ministry of Health said in a tweet, “To ensure safety wear home-made reusable face-covers/mask properly, especially while stepping out of your home.”

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