Explainer: Why you should stop buying face masks

Published: March 2, 2020
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Most face masks out there can be like purchasing a scented trash bag: a huge waste of money, say health experts. DESIGN: THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE/IBRAHIM YAHYA

Most face masks out there can be like purchasing a scented trash bag: a huge waste of money, say health experts. DESIGN: THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE/IBRAHIM YAHYA

After the hovering coronavirus, COVID-19, fear that has jolted almost the entire world, surge in the demand of face masks is no new to ears. However, health experts suggest that “you don’t necessarily need a face mask to mark yourself safe from the contagious disease”.

According to an article published in Forbes, most face masks out there can be like purchasing a scented trash bag: a huge waste of money. Many available masks are going to do diddly squat for you. By the way, “diddly squat” is a technical term for “nothing”.

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has maintained that you should only wear a mask if you yourself are infected with the new coronavirus or if you are taking care of someone who may be infected.

Otherwise, you are just depleting supplies for those people who may actually need such masks such as health care professionals. The current mask-buying frenzy has jeoperdise the health of the people who are working day and night for our health safety.

Pharmacists run out of surgical masks after first coronavirus case surfaces in Karachi

Most surgical masks, health experts explained, have holes and cannot stop the perforation of viruses. Thus, from a “protecting you” standpoint, wearing a surgical mask would have about the same effect as covering your face with pastrami, except without the obvious advantages of pastrami.

In fact, doctors, nurses, and other health professionals typically wear such masks to protect you from them. Such masks can make it harder for stuff in their mouths and noses to reach you, which can be especially important during surgery or some other medical procedure.

Most masks being sold are not like P2/N95 respirators and therefore offer no real protection. N95 means that it can filter out 95% of airborne particles, assuming that they were actually tested and approved as legitimate N95 respirators by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

According to the published article, filtering out 95% is probably good enough to keep those teeny-weeny new coronaviruses away from your mouth and nose. A N95 respirator works only if you use it properly to form a tight seal with your face. Even if you do so, these masks aren’t foolproof though because nothing in life is 100%, except maybe avocados bringing happiness.

Precautions against coronavirus

Hence, unless you yourself are infected with the new coronavirus or are taking care of someone who is infected, wearing a N95 mask is not necessary.

Instead of spending resources and energy in finding the best mask for yourself, It may be better to focus on more effective and cost-effective strategies such as washing your hands frequently and thoroughly. Also, try not to touch yourself so much, meaning your face.

With an aim to stop an epidemic to turn into a pandemic, the key idea is to stop the impact of a virus or to at least understand who needs to be protected first: health care professionals.

If you deplete the masks by buying all of it up when doing so is not necessary, you may be leaving health care professionals exposed so that they can start carrying viruses. And no one wants see that happen, except for perhaps the viruses.

The story originally appeared on Forbes

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