When the novel coronavirus outbreak happened in China and went out of control, the World Health Organisation recommended masks only for health professionals. The general public was advised not to wear masks as it might increase chances of catching other infections.
Later, empirical observation and studies by researchers made governments issue advisories different from the WHO’s. Researchers in Hong Kong screened more than 3,000 individuals for a study to ascertain the efficacy of masks in preventing Covid-19.
They found wearing surgical face masks could prevent transmission of human coronaviruses and influenza viruses from symptomatic individuals.
“We detected coronavirus in respiratory droplets and aerosols in 3 of 10 (30%) and 4 of 10 (40%) of the samples collected without face masks, respectively, but did not detect any virus in respiratory droplets or aerosols collected from participants wearing face masks. This difference was significant in aerosols and showed a trend toward reduced detection in respiratory droplets,” the researchers said in the article published in the journal Nature.
Wearing mask is now a key component in the prescribed shield against novel coronavirus. But wearing mask does not come without side effects.
In many cases, individuals have been reported to have reduced oxygen levels in the body after long hours of wearing masks. Some others, using masks made of synthetic material, developed rashes on their face.
Now, it is advised to use simple triple-layered face mask, N-95/N-99 masks or DIY (do it yourself) mask made of cotton fabric.
While these masks can reduce susceptibility of individuals to novel coronavirus, they can be fatal for toddlers. The Japan Pediatric Association on Monday warned against putting masks on children below the age of 2.
The medical group said, “The respiratory systems of infants have narrow air passageways. Wearing face masks can make it difficult for them to breathe and can place a heavy burden on their hearts.”
Masks also increase the risk of suffocation for babies. Infants often vomit and wearing masks can lead to pneumonia among toddlers, the association warned.
There is an additional risk of heatstroke as the masks don’t let heat escape from toddler’s face.
Incidentally, in their detailed advisories on wearing masks, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics too have recommended use of face masks by only those above the age of 2, and only in the case where…