During the difficult times of the COVID-19 pandemic, Masks have been used increasingly all over the world to help prevent the transmission of the COVID-19 virus. By using a physical barrier, it can significantly reduce infecting someone with covid-19. Masks dramatically reduce the public health risks associated with the spread of the coronavirus.
How does COVID-19 Spread?
COVID 19 is a respiratory virus. It spreads when an infected person coughs, sneezes, speaks, sings or breathes. This is because the COVID-19 virus spreads through particles that range from small aerosols to large respiratory droplets. Masks are a great barrier that limits the range which these droplets and aerosols can reach.
Why use a mask?
Wearing a mask has been a large part of the COVID-19 pandemic. But masks have been used previously all around the world for various different reasons, especially for disease control and prevention of dangerous particles entering the body. A great example of this is bushfires when large quantities of hazardous chemicals and smoke are in the air. Masks can filter through these chemicals to provide clean air to the person using the mask. Masks have also previously been used in areas that have high levels of pollution. Masks can greatly reduce the level of dangerous toxins that are breathed in.
Masks are super important in preventing transmission as they can filter out air particles over a certain size. This includes COVID-19. The use of face masks covers the parts of your face which are the most likely cause you to be infected. The mouth and nose are known for contracting viral infections as we use them to breathe in and out oxygen.
Masks are great for reducing the spread because it restricts what bacteria and viruses are inhaled. It can also reduce the spreading of bacteria and viruses from your body to others. This can be done so by reducing the amount of time your hands, which can carry dangerous viral bacteria, touch your face and how often it happens too. Not only does it protect you, but it protects others by reducing the distance these aerosols and droplets can travel.
The other great thing about wearing a mask is that if the person wearing the mask does not know they have COVID-19, then wearing a mask can significantly reduce the spread as symptoms can take days to weeks before being noticable. However, if you feel like you are developing symptoms and possibly have contracted the virus, please follow government advice and stay home to reduce the spread as a mask does not fully protect a person who is giving or getting the virus, but it does greatly reduce the spread.
What is PPE?
PPE stands for Personal Protective Equipment. It plays a huge role in defending against the virus and slowing the spread.
What PPE equipment is used?
- Medical goggles
- P2/N95 masks
- Surgical gowns
- Surgical masks
- Disposable gloves
- Face shields
- Medical aprons
Of course, this is very extreme equipment and generally used in high-risk environments such as hospitals or COVID testing centres. The use of this equipment can also depend on the company’s budget (if private), the likelihood of contracting the virus performing a certain task and the nature of your work. Generally, PPE is not used for day to day life.
Types of masks
These masks are heavy duty and are mostly used in healthcare settings or people who might be in close contact with an infected person or vulnerable persons. These masks have multiple layers and do a great job of filtering particulate matter.
Medical Grade Reusable Surgical mask
Are a great cheap alternative and great in environments where you might need to change your mask constantly. Despite them not being the tightest fitting mask. Any mask is better than none. These masks are also super adjustable with a ‘one size fits all’ premise. So if you are buying disposable masks for a large group of people, these will work great! They also do a great job of protecting against COVID-19. However, these masks are not reusable and should be thrown away after use.
Non-Medical grade face coverings
These masks are made out of cloth and usually have two layers of fabric. They do reduce the spread of the virus however are not medical grade and are not recommended for use in a medical care environment. They do filter through airborne particles however are not as good as P2/N95 masks or medical-grade masks, which have more layers of protection and protect the wearers better.
Scarfs, Handkerchiefs, Bandana’s
How to use a face mask?
The Australian Government Health website gives us some great advice on how to wear and use a face mask properly.
- wash or sanitise your hands before putting a mask on or taking a mask off
- make sure the mask covers your nose and mouth and fits snugly under your chin, over the bridge of your nose and against the sides of your face
- do not touch the front of your mask while wearing or removing it
- do not allow the mask to hang around your neck or under your nose
- do not reuse single-use masks; wash and dry reusable masks after use and store in a clean dry place.
While a mask is a great precaution, in Australia the general health advice is too;
- stay at home if unwell
- maintain physical distance (more than 1.5 metres) from other people, when out
- avoid large gatherings and crowded indoor spaces
- practise hand and respiratory hygiene.
Where should I wear one?
Face Masks should be worn anywhere you will be making contact with another person. Depending on your state and territory, different regulations apply with masks. However, it is highly recommended for all Australians to wear masks in public.
It’s especially needed when around vulnerable people. Vulnerable people are typically people with a pre-existing health condition, elderly people or children.
SA Health identifies a list of places where masks are mandatory. However, it can vary from state to state. In South Australia, masks are mandatory in any environment where you physically can not social distance and in any indoor environment such as shopping centres, public transports and more. However, it is recommended that you wear a mask in any environment where you will be in close contact with people.
First Aid Pro COVID-19 Safety
First Aid Pro offers some great courses and a part of our courses is the utmost in COVID-19 Safety. Want to do a First Aid course but are worried about COVID? Don’t be! We have a great article that covers everything you need to know about our COVID-19 safety plan and includes wearing masks. Click here to check it out here!