As the (COVID-19) outbreak spreads through the world, safety measures such as practicing social distancing, frequent hand washing, and wearing face coverings are rapidly becoming the new normal.
But even as a large part of the population accepts the scientific findings that make way for these suggestions, others are not so quick to rule in their favor. This is especially true for wearing protective face coverings.
While wearing a face mask has not turned into a largely political issue in Canada, there is growing dissent in some people who challenge the practice out of personal views. To some, mask-wearing doesn’t come off as anything more than a hassle. Whereas, others think of it as being useless against COVID-19.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
To help you understand how face masks can help in the fight against COVID-19, here’s an overview of scientific findings, research, and statistics that highlight the efficacy of protective face coverings.
A Face Mask Absorbs the Respiratory Droplets That Spread COVID-19
The novel coronavirus is mainly spread by the transmission of respiratory droplets. When someone has COVID-19, they can release the virus into the surrounding air by simply talking, coughing, sneezing, and even breathing. If a healthy individual’s eyes, nose, or mouth catches these droplets, they can become infected with the novel coronavirus.
But that’s where it gets tricky. According to health experts, it’s possible for around 40 percent of COVID-19 cases to be asymptomatic, which means that they show no symptoms of the disease. Whereas, anyone who is presymptomatic or has not started showing symptoms can also infect others.
This means that even seemingly healthy individuals can inadvertently spread the novel coronavirus. This is why it’s critical that you maintain a distance of 2 meters from anyone who is not a member of your household. But when this social distancing is not possible, it’s recommended that you wear a face mask instead.
According to the World Health Organization, wearing face masks can help curb the transmission of COVID-19. By the simple act of covering your nose and mouth, your protective face covering can absorb your respiratory droplets that would otherwise be released into the air. In case you have COVID-19 but remain asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic, this practice can ensure that you don’t unintentionally infect others.
Various Studies Highlight the Efficacy of Face Masks
The suggestion by WHO is deeply based on scientific findings. This is why many government agencies around the world have started recommending mask mandates. This ensures that everyone in the general population wears protective face coverings while visiting any public places amid COVID-19.
Various observations by global health experts point towards the efficacy of wearing face masks against respiratory infectious diseases such as the novel coronavirus.
One of these studies that included epidemiologic data from 16 countries showed that face masks can decrease the chances of contracting a respiratory infectious disease by 80 percent. Whereas, another study that looked at findings from 198 countries noted that those countries that make mask wearing a mandatory practice have fewer death rates by infectious diseases.
Apart from large scale studies, wearing a mask has also proven effective in isolated instances. This includes the case of the COVID-19 patient who flew to Toronto from China while wearing a face mask. Despite flying in close contact with 25 people, the patient did not infect anyone else. These types of incidents show how helpful mask-wearing can be in specific instances.
Overall, these suggestions point out that if all members of a community wear masks in combination with other safety measures such as social distancing and frequent hand washing, it can dramatically decrease the spread of COVID-19.
Health Canada Also Recommends Wearing Protective Face Coverings
Since wearing face masks is easier than frequently getting tested for COVID-19 or completely cutting off from the world, the practice is being welcomed by health experts all around the world.
This also includes top experts at Health Canada, who recommend that you should absolutely start wearing face coverings whenever you are in a public setting. This applies to every member of the general population, who can be asymptomatic or presymptomatic carriers of the novel coronavirus.
By the basic action of putting on a face mask on your nose and mouth, you can help decrease the spread of your respiratory droplets to anyone who comes in contact with you. This is especially true in settings such as public transit, grocery stores, and healthcare facilities, where it’s difficult to strictly maintain physical distancing. In such scenarios, a protective face covering ensures that you do not mistakenly spread COVID-19 to other people.
Due to the crucial nature of the advisory, Health Canada goes as far as to recommend face masks for everyone above the age of 2. The agency only makes an exception for toddlers below 2 years old so they don’t run the risk of suffocation in the absence of adult supervision.
Face Masks Are Completely Safe to Wear for Everyone
Apart from children under 2 years of age, face masks remain completely safe to use by anyone. They don’t affect your oxygen levels, they don’t harm your breathing, and they don’t cause your health to deteriorate in any manner.
The best part? You don’t have to get special or scarce medical equipment such as N95 respirators. It’s because these specialized respirators only filter outward air for the wearer to inhale. Due to this function, they are only suitable for healthcare professionals who treat COVID-19 patients and remain surrounded by infectious respiratory droplets in their environment.
Since you are wearing your face mask as a larger protective measure for the community, you can choose between home-stitched or professionally made cloth masks and surgical masks instead. These masks easily absorb your respiratory droplets and help you keep others safe from the unwitting transmission of COVID-19.
To put it simply: Wearing face masks can effectively curb the spread of COVID-19 as well as other infectious diseases that are transmitted through respiratory droplets. By putting on an easily accessible mask, practicing frequent hand washing, and adhering to social distancing, you can do your part in battling against COVID-19 within your community and the larger world itself.