Can wearing a medical face mask protect you from the new coronavirus? It’s a matter so many people are asking, including dog owners who are putting canine face masks on the dogs. If it’s a regular surgical face mask, the reply is no, Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, told Live Science.
A much more specialized mask, referred to as an N95 respirator, can protect against the brand new coronavirus, also called SARS-CoV-2. The respirator is thicker compared to a surgical mask, but neither Schaffner nor the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) recommend it for public use, at least not at this point. That’s because, partly, it’s challenging to use these masks and wear them for long periods of time, he explained.
Specialists receive retraining annually regarding how to properly fit these respirators around the nose, cheeks and chin, making sure wearers don’t breathe round the edges of the respirator. “When you do that, it appears that this work of breathing, since you’re experiencing an extremely thick material, is harder. You need to work to breathe out and in. It’s a bit claustrophobic. It can get moist and hot within,” Schaffner said.
“I know that I can wear them when I need to for around one half-hour,” he added. “But then, I will need to go from the isolation room, remove it and try taking a little deep breaths, kind of cool off, before I can go back in.”
Although it still might be possible to snag an N95 respirator online, Schaffner advised against it. If too many people unnecessarily stockpile respirators, a shortage could put the health of medical workers and those that need them in danger, Schaffner said.
Surgical masks – The thinner surgical mask is meant for surgeons, because these products conduct a good job of keeping pathogens through the doctor’s nose and mouth from entering the surgical field, Schaffner said.
In a few Asian countries, such as Japan and China, it’s not unusual to see people wearing surgical masks in public areas to safeguard against pathogens and pollution. But those masks don’t help much in the context of any virus, Schaffner said. “They’re not designed to keep out viral particles, and they’re not nearly as tightly fitted around your nose and cheeks” as being an N95 respirator, he explained.
“Could they be of some use? Yes, but the effect is likely to be modest,” Schaffner said.
He noted that many people wear surgical masks because they are sick having a cold or perhaps the flu plus they don’t would like to get other individuals sick. But if you’re sick, it’s best just not to visit public areas. “That’s time to stay home,” Schaffner said.
People sick with COVID-19, however, should wear face masks to lessen the risk of infection to individuals around them, based on the CDC. Health care workers and those “looking after someone infected with COVID-19 in close settings (at home or in a healthcare facility),” also needs to wear face masks, the CDC reported.
People wearing surgical masks should dispose of them after each use, the CDC added.
Otherwise, the easiest method to avoid getting the coronavirus is to, above all, postpone any travel to places with known outbreaks. You can also thoroughly wash the hands with soap; avoid touching your vision, nose and mouth xfsvee unwashed hands; avoid close connection with people who are sick; and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces, the CDC recommends.
As for dog owners putting face masks on their own dogs, a Pomeranian dog in Hong Kong tested positive a “weak positive” for COVID-19. That dog is now in quarantine, but is not showing signs of the ailment, according to a March 5 piece within the South China Morning Post. However, it’s unclear just how the dog was tested for the illness. What’s more, it doesn’t appear that pets can transmit the virus to humans, and experts told people who have pets not to panic.