Could homemade masks help stop infected people spreading virus?

Henrietta Strickland
April 1, 2020

A federal official speaking anonymously to the Washington Post said that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is considering changing its guidance to encourage people to cover their faces with cloth do-it-yourself masks - not surgical or N95 masks that are already scarce and needed for healthcare workers.

Health officials have hotly debated whether there are preventive benefits to shielding your face if you aren't sick. They make us wonder, should we be wearing a mask, too?

"My feeling is that [if] people want to do it, there's certainly no harm to it".

"We're not there yet, but I think we're coming close to some determination, because if in fact a person who may or may not be infected wants to prevent infecting someone else, one of the best ways to do that is with a mask", Fauci said.

The CDC is looking at data involving the cotton masks, Adams said. We'll be discussing it today, this afternoon, at the task force meeting, ' Fauci told CNN Tuesday.

"We're not going to be wearing masks forever, but it could be for a short period of time", Trump said.

The most commonly available form of masks in the market, surgical masks are the ones which are slightly loose-fitted around the mouth and used to protect a person against large splashes of droplets, water, sprays and used in medical facilities. The agency counsels that critical supplies should be saved for caregivers.

With covid-19 cases still climbing sharply in the United States, some scientists, health experts, pundits and social influencers have begun vigorously advancing their position that everyone venturing into public or crowded places should wear a mask or face shield - even a homemade one - to lower the rate of transmission of the coronavirus, which causes covid-19.

You should wear a face mask if you are sick when you're around other people and before you enter a doctor's office.

She said if you use a bandana, triple it up because the fabric is so thin it likely won't give much protection.

Still, there are active discussions at the CDC about the guidelines.

While they do cover your mouth, surgical masks can't really protect you from catching or transmitting the coronavirus or any such microbe in the air, since it has loose gaps which can help the germs crawl in. But know that the more you touch your face the more you put yourself at risk.

When to wear a Mask?

The surgeon general shot down the idea of mass producing for public use the N95 masks that health care workers are wearing.

Still, it said, "in many global communities, wearing masks in public is common, widely considered to be good hygiene, and is seen as a communal gesture of protecting others from the wearer's potentially infectious exhales".

But some experts say they could be useful as a barrier to stop those infected - articularly those without symptoms - from contaminating others through the tiny respiratory droplets emitted when they cough, sneeze, talk or even breathe.

Yes, if masks are misused, they can actually lead to a greater transmission of the virus.

"Homemade masks theoretically could offer some protection if the materials and fit were optimized, but this is uncertain", Jeffrey Duchin, a top health official in Seattle and King County, Washington, told the Post.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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