Masks have been controversial from the start. WHO has recommended them only for patients and those who care for them. It was pointed out that the use of masks creates a false sense of security and disregard for other, more effective security measures and leads to unnecessary costs, and in addition, the widespread use of masks can lead to a shortage of personal protective equipment for doctors who really need them.
On June 5, WHO updated its recommendations: it may be worth wearing masks for everyone who leaves the house and will be in places where it is difficult to maintain the prescribed distance. One of the reasons is the confirmation that asymptomatic, that is, people who do not cough or sneeze, can transmit the infection to others.
Back in March, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended the use of masks whenever a person leaves the house. Rospotrebnadzor also called for wearing masks, and now this is mandatory in most regions. The mask is primarily needed in public places and in transport, that is, where it is impossible to maintain the recommended distance. The Emergencies Ministry says the mask is appropriate in crowded places, but ineffective outdoors.
How to wear a mask correctly
When using a mask, it is imperative to wear it correctly - with clean hands, covering your nose and mouth. The mask should not be touched while you are wearing it, but you should also remove it with clean hands and immediately throw it into a resealable container or bag and wash your hands again. More precise instructions on how to properly wear a mask depend on the type of mask.
What are the masks and what do they protect from?
These masks are sold in pharmacies and shops. These masks (it is more correct to call them half masks or even quarter masks) are made of a special non-woven material, fastened with elastic bands, and cover the nose and mouth. Medical masks consist of three layers: the first inner layer must absorb moisture, the middle one is a filter, the outer (often painted blue, blue or green) is water-repellent, but not necessary. In medical masks, there is a thin metal plate (nasal retainer), it bends at the bridge of the nose and provides a tighter fit, however, there are still gaps on the sides. Such a mask is primarily needed in order to protect others from the wearer. It will delay drops flying out of the mouth and nose when sneezing, coughing and talking. But it weakly protects against the penetration of viruses or microbes from the outside due to a loose fit. In addition, she does not close her eyes, which is another possible route of infection. However, using a medical mask is the easiest way to reduce your risk of infection, especially in a public place.
When buying a mask, pay attention to the packaging: it must indicate GOST R 58396-2019 and the degree of protection - type I retains 95% of particles, type II or II R (the letter indicates additional protection against splashes) - 98%. Such masks should not be confused with hygiene, construction or barrier masks. They are designed to protect against larger particles and are ineffective in preventing infectious diseases.
Fall into the same category as those described above. Rosstandart has developed technical conditions for their production and outlined the operating conditions: the mask must consist of at least three layers of cotton material, it must be changed every 4–6 hours, washed and ironed after use. True, Rospotrebnadzor recommends changing the mask every two hours, unless it gets dirty earlier.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released instructions on how to make a mask yourself, including from improvised means: T-shirts, bandanas or a scarf. When choosing a fabric, check how dense it is. This is easy to do by looking at the light through it: the less it shines, the better. Such protective equipment should be used if you have no other options.
They differ from masks in that they must first of all protect the wearer, as they filter the inhaled air. According to European standards, they are divided into categories FFP1, which retains 80% of particles, FFP2 (94%), FFP3 (99%). American markings contain letters and numbers. The letters N, R, P denote the degree of resistance to oil (Not resistant, Resistent, oil Proof), the number indicates the percentage of particles retained. So, one of the most widely available respirators N95 is not resistant to oil and retains 95% of particles.
Valve respirators are not used by clinicians in cleanrooms because the exhaled air does not pass through the filter. Accordingly, they should not be worn by those who are already sick.
All the above-mentioned departments emphasize that the main thing in the fight against a pandemic is a set of measures. You need to wash your hands often and correctly (at least 20 seconds), not touch your face, keep your distance in public places and visit them less often.
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