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Surgical and Cloth Masks are Useless Against COVID-19, Says New Study

Both the cotton and surgical masks are ineffective for filtering the SAD-CoV-2 and don’t prevent the dissemination of virus from the sneeze or cough of patients suffering from COVID-19. The study was conducted at two hospitals in South Korea and Seoul, which demonstrated that face masks are ineffective as virus droplets release to the external mask surface and the environment when patients coughed into either type of face mask.

The findings of the research report are published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Face masks are thought to prevent virus transmission during respiratory viral infections, leading healthcare professionals to recommend the use of masks during coronavirus pandemic. With the shortage of N95 and surgical face masks, which thought to prevent the virus spread, cotton masks are now used as a substitute. But it is not confirmed if these masks are worn by COVID-19 patients actually prevent the transmission of the virus to the environment.

Wearing face masks are not an iron-clad guarantee for preventing the virus transmission as a virus can also spread through the masks, tiny viral droplets or aerosols can penetrate through masks.

Since the start of coronavirus pandemic, U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised not to wear face masks unless if someone is sick, caring for a suspected patient or working in health care.

Researchers from the University of Ulsan College of Medical and Asian Medical Center, Seoul, South Korea asked four COVID-19 patients to cough five times each onto the Petri plate while wearing the following mask sequence, no face mask, surgical mask, cotton mask and again without a mask.

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The researchers found the SARS-CoV-2 on both the outer and inner surfaces of both masks. These outcomes suggest that recommendations for wearing masks for the prevention of COVID-19 spread are not effective.

These findings are contrary to the recommendations of the World Health Organization. It recommends the use of face masks if someone is coughing or sneezing, if someone is healthy but taking care of someone with suspected COVD-19 infection. It says face masks are only effective when used in combination with frequent proper hand-washing with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer. One must know how to use and dispose of a mask properly.

There are numerous reasons given for the fact that masks don’t offer complete offer from the virus including that the most effective models require special fitting to provide significant protection, people don’t wear them correctly, and masks give the false sense of complete security and make people relax and not to care about social distancing and hand washing

The WHO shares the proper method of wearing and removing masks. It says before wearing masks, wash hands with soap or sanitize your hands with alcohol-based hand rub. Cover nose and mouth with a mask and make sure no gaps left between the face and the mask.

Avoid touching face mask while using it. Replace it with a new one if it becomes damp and doesn’t reuse single-use face masks. Remove the mask from behind, don’t touch its front side, and discard it immediately in a closed bin. After discarding again wash hands with soap or alcohol-based hand rub.

An expert on infectious diseases at Columbia University, Dr. Daniel Griffin said that a face mask can catch the respiratory droplets while sneezing or coughing and don’t let them land on surfaces or other people so it is going to protect your neighbour. If your neighbour is wearing a face mask then they are going to protect you, so properly worn masks have the potential of protecting people.

Amna Rana

Amna Rana, a writing enthusiast and a microbiologist. Her areas of interest are medical and health care. She writes about diseases, treatments, alternative therapies, lifestyles and the latest news. You can find her on Linkedin Amna Rana.

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