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Which masks are effective against coronavirus and how can they be replaced in case of deficiency

The US government recommends that all people wear masks to stop the spread of coronavirus in the country. "Voice of America" Gathered recommendations and official information from American doctors to answer frequently asked questions regarding wearing masks.

Photo: Shutterstock

Does the mask protect against coronavirus infection?

The mask protects the people around you from infection. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a significant proportion of people infected with coronavirus show no symptoms and do not know that they are carriers of the virus. These people can infect others without wanting to. Therefore, wearing a mask every time you go out is a good idea.

If you are healthy and sick, a medical mask can reduce your chances of infection. However, it does not guarantee complete protection.

“It won't protect you, but it will protect your neighbor,” Dr. Daniel Griffin, an infectious disease expert at Columbia University, tells US Public Radio. - And if your neighbor wears a mask, the same happens, that is, he protects you from infection. Therefore, if worn correctly, the mask is very beneficial for people. ”

The main function of the mask is to protect other people from infection. The best protective masks are N95 respirators, and they are recommended to be worn by physicians in contact with patients.

If someone sneezed at me, would my mask protect me?

Yes. If you wear the mask correctly and do not touch it with your hands after sneezing.

If you are wearing a mask, drops from another person's cough or sneeze will settle on the mask and not on your face. However, it is very important to take off the mask after that, but only by the strings behind the ears - without touching the mask itself.

“This is what I see all the time,” says Dr. Griffin, “people don’t use masks correctly, they touch the front of the mask, adjust it, lower it under the nose.”

If you touch the front of the mask, everything that gets on it after someone's coughing or sneezing passes into your hands.

The video shows how to properly remove the mask if it is suspected that it is infected.

Doctors also recommend wearing glasses - regular or sunglasses. They protect your eyes from dripping after coughing or sneezing.

On social networks, doctors and nurses are actively distributing various videos where they show how to properly remove the mask and gloves.

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Are home-made masks effective?

There is no consensus on homemade masks.

Homemade fabric masks will probably not protect you from COVID-19 infection, says Michael Doyle, a US Army military doctor in New York.

“The only mask that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers safe from contracting the coronavirus, the only way not to inhale the virus is with the N95 mask,” Captain Michael Doyle told USA Today.

The US chief surgeon presented a video on how to make a face mask yourself.

Meanwhile, separate studies in the United States and Vietnam have shown that a homemade mask can still be effective and able to block respiratory droplets from sick people. How strong this defense is is unknown.

How often do you need to wash a reusable mask?

“Masks, like underwear, should be washed after each use,” said Dr. Griffin.

“You can't take off the mask, put it in a bag and then put it back on your face. If you wear it, it either delays your coughing, sneezing, or drops while talking, or protects you from sneezing, coughing, and drops when other people talk. Therefore, in any case, it is dirty. It must either be washed or thrown away. "

If you use a fabric mask, put it in the laundry basket after each use.

You can not put off the mask for lunch, and then put it on again. She will give you all the dirt that was on your hands, on the table and other surfaces that it came into contact with.

Is there a better mask design?

There is little information about what kind of fabric is effective for a mask and how many layers are needed for this.

Dr. Griffin recommends tightly woven cotton: “Don't use synthetics or polyester, because when the virus's ability to survive on various surfaces was studied, spandex was found to be the worst surface.”

Ukrainian volunteers from the Veteranius organization also shared a mock-up of their own cuts, who sew masks for Ukrainian soldiers for the money raised.

All organizations recommend using 100% cotton for masks and be sure to wash the fabric before sewing so that it does not “shrink” later.

This video shows how to make a mask from a T-shirt without sewing, only with the help of scissors.

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Can a scarf replace a mask?

Most probably not. Most scarves are not tightly woven and do not fit tightly to the face.

“Imagine protecting your face with a knitted scarf with many holes. It's ineffective, ”says Dr. Michael Klompas, an infectious disease doctor.

The purpose of the mask is to create a barrier that protects your face from droplets with the virus. Therefore, the covering on the face should be very finely woven and fit snugly to the face.

Although the US president recently said that the scarf protects better than a mask.

“It doesn't have to be a mask, it can be a scarf,” Donald Trump said. - I think, depending on the fabric, the scarf is the best. He's actually better. "

Scientists do not confirm the view that a scarf is better than a mask.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in addition to masks to protect your face, you can use bandanas and a scarf, but only as a last resort.

Besides face protection, what other benefits does a mask have?

Harvard professor Joseph Allen believes that, among other things, masks have a visual preventative function.

Face shields are “a reminder to follow these measures, they remind people of this barrier. They should be treated as a badge of honor. When I wear a mask in public, it means that I am worried about your health in case of my infection, that I am worried about the people around me, about strangers. That is, I want to protect others, “- explained the professor.

In addition, he said, the mask gives people a sense of security.

“It makes you feel like you're behind a shield and it adds confidence,” says Joseph Allen.

At the same time, doctors remind that in addition to masks, one must not forget about other mandatory precautions in order to protect themselves from infection. In particular, it is necessary to adhere to social distance, often wash hands and observe hygiene rules.

A simple step-by-step instruction on self-manufacture of a protective mask can be found here.

Educational program coronavirus Special Projects medical masks

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