The Truth About How Face Masks Work to Stop the Spread of COVID-19
While the death count is a little tricky to calculate, the number of infected people is even more difficult to know exactly. There are probably many more millions of people infected who haven’t yet had the opportunity to receive a test.
While the virus continues to spread throughout the world, our knowledge of how to handle the pandemic is also growing. New information has allowed experts to recommend wearing masks with greater certainty before.
According to the Worldometer, as of April 25, 2020, there are 2.8 million confirmed COVID-19 cases in the world. About 200,000 people have died so far.
Read on to learn all about the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus and how we can all help stop its spread.
How COVID-19 Spreads
There are three main ways that COVID can spread: surface transmission, water droplets in the air, and aerosol particles. In the first days of the pandemic, experts emphasized the danger of surface transmission.
Newer information has led them to emphasize water droplet spread instead. Many are now saying that this is the main way that the virus spreads. Latest analysis suggests that surface transmission is a relatively less common way for people to catch COVID.
When a person is infected with this coronavirus, the virus starts to build up in their throat. They are often contagious for five days or more before they ever show symptoms.
Even before an infected person shows symptoms, the virus is sitting in their throats, ready to escape outside. If someone coughs or sneezes, even if for a reason completely unrelated to the virus, then the virus can land on a surface.
Sitting on a surface, the virus can survive for as long as several days. While copper surfaces kill the virus in four hours or less, COVID can survive on plastic for as long as 3-9 days, and on ceramics for 5 days or so.
If someone else touches the contaminated surface, the virus can transfer to their hands. If they later touch their face, then the virus can enter through the eyes, nose, or mouth. So far, it appears that the virus does not spread through the ears.
Water Droplets in the Air
Unfortunately, it seems that infected people spread the virus through the air simply by breathing. This is why recent recommendations by the Department of Health recommend keeping 1.5m or more away from people at all times.
When people simply breathe, they exhale tiny water droplets that are too small to see. Studies have confirmed for sure that these tiny water droplets carry the virus and can infect other people if they get into their mouths, noses, or eyes.
While these droplets are too small to see, they are still relatively heavy, which means that they quickly fall from the air and land on surfaces. While some people think that 6 feet is not quite far enough, it’s still true that exhaled water droplets fall fairly quickly to the ground and can no longer be inhaled.
Aerosol particles are like water droplets but smaller. They are not created by merely breathing, but instead result from coughs and sneezes. Unfortunately, because these droplets are smaller, they are lighter and can remain aloft in the air for much longer periods of time.
The World Health Organisation says that aerosol particles have been confirmed to stay in the air for up to 3 hours, with COVID still detectable inside of them. However, we have not yet confirmed that these tiny droplets are capable of infecting people for 3 hours.
For now, experts are still emphasizing larger water droplets as the main way that the virus spreads, not tinier aerosol droplets.
Why Face Masks Are Good for Stopping the Spread
Facts about masks show that they have some upsides as well as some downsides.
When it comes to surface transmission, a mask will not help at all. In fact, since you have to touch around your face whenever you adjust your mask or put it on or off, wearing a mask might even make you slightly more likely to get infected via surface transmission.
Fortunately, surface transmission is not the main way the virus spreads.
Most masks, especially homemade or cloth masks, are not very effective for blocking out aerosol particles floating in the air. The small size of aerosols allows them to pass through the holes in your mask that you breathe through.
The mask that offers the best protection is a Particulate Respirator as it filters out ≥ 95 of airborne particles. While a particulate respirator can not guarantee you won’t get sick, it has a high filtration ability compared to most masks on the market. Depending on where you are in the world, you might know a particulate respirator as a N95 Mask, FFP2 Mask, P2 Mask or KN95 mask.
Fortunately again, aerosol transmission is not the main way that COVID spreads.
Face mask protection is most effective when it comes to dealing with the larger water droplets in the air that come from infected people breathing. Data Scientist Jeremy Howard says that even a homemade mask can be quite effective at keeping those larger water droplets out.
Additionally, mask information shows that masks are even more effective for keeping infected water droplets in. In other words, if someone is infected, it’s essential that they wear a mask to help protect everyone else. Even a homemade mask can help keep the water droplets from their breath from scattering throughout the air.
Since these larger water droplets are the main way that COVID spreads, masks are a powerful way to stop the spread.
A typical COVID infection is completely asymptomatic for about 5 days. It is still relatively common for an infection to be asymptomatic for 10 days, and even longer. Since none of us can know for sure if we’re infected or not, it’s vital that we all wear masks to make sure that we’re not accidentally infecting those around us.
Help Prevent the Spread of COVID by Wearing Masks
Now you have some understanding on why experts believe it is so important to wear a mask. But you might be concerned on whether you can get a mask when there is so much demand. But don’t worry, you can buy masks right here through our online Vidar store, or through our primary reseller Paragon Tool’s P2 / N95 Masks Australia | Face Masks for sale page.
We hope you learned something helpful about the importance of wearing masks to help protect ourselves and others from COVID. Stay safe, stay isolated, and we will see you at the other side.