Medical Face Masks, Respirators and Antiseptics: What Can Protect from Coronavirus?
Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, a lot of people wear medical face masks and respirators in public places to insure themselves against infection. Do these preventive measures protect from infection? Why should one regularly disinfect hands? These issues are revealed in the article.
Could a medical mask secure from coronavirus?
A medical (surgical) mask is an expendable item that covers the mouth and nose in case of proper use, ensuring a barrier against direct transmission of infectious particles from a carrier to other people.
Viral diseases such as influenza or coronavirus are primarily transferred by airborne transmission. They are spread during sneezing and coughing. COVID-19 enters the body through mouth, nose and eye mucosae. It is also communicable. For example, a person becomes infected by rubbing the nose with a hand containing virus particles.
The medical mask worn to prevent the disease is not highly efficient. This product covers only a part of the face and is loose. Its material can let microscopic virus particles. Therefore, the mask is not able to fully protect an individual from breathing in COVID-19 viral particles.
Moreover, the mask can even harm healthy people. This opinion was earlier expressed by Tarik Jasarevic, an authorized representative of WНO. He asserts that utilizing medical masks, healthy people feel a false sense of security and can ignore other important preventive measures.
However, there is a benefit from the medical mask if it is worn by a person with symptoms of coronavirus or the diagnosed disease. This protector reduces the risks of respiratory virus spreading.
WНO recommends wearing surgical masks in case of such symptoms as coughing or sneezing. Healthy people should use this item if they contact with patients infected by coronavirus or suspected of having the infection.
Despite the fact that medical masks are inefficient as protection against coronavirus, neither WНO nor other institutions or organizations prohibit people from wearing them. What’s most important is to comply with the rules of their exploitation.
How to use the mask properly?
Medical masks are single-use and not subject to secondary use. They should be replaced every two hours during the epidemic and when staying at health facilities. By the way, the mask can be useful only in case of the appropriate application. The negligent attitude to means of individual protection can increase the infection risk.
The World Health Organization has published tips on the correct use of surgical masks. To steer clear of infection, you should adhere to the following rules.
Before touching a mask, clean your hands thoroughly with soap or an alcohol-based antiseptic agent.
The mask should be put on so that it smoothly covers the mouth and nose.
Avoid touching the mask while using it.
When the medical mask becomes damp (approximately in 2 hours), put it off and discard in a closed bin. At the same time, do not touch the front of the product. Remove the mask by its rubbers.
After mask disposal, clean your hands with soap or disinfect them with antiseptics. Then put on a new mask.
Respirators for protection against coronavirus
Besides conventional medical masks, one can use respirators during the pandemic. These means protect respiratory organs from gases, vapors, dust, aerosols and viruses. They are applied in various sectors, including manufacturing, metallurgical engineering and healthcare.
Modern respirators differ in a range of parameters. One of them is a protection class. This parameter shows how the product can hold off harmful substances from the environment. Respirators are divided into three protection classes: FFP1, FFP2, FFP3.
It’s worth noting that the most reliable respirators are equipped with a special valve. They ensure efficient protection for up to eight hours. However, the eventual operation period depends on the level of air pollution and environmental conditions.
Let’s examine in detail the special features of various respirators.
Products of this class are able to hold off up to 80% of non-toxic coarse dust. Such respirators are more reliable than conventional surgical masks. Nevertheless, they do not provide total protection from viral infections.
There are two types of FFP1 respirators: with and without valves. Items equipped with a special valve (primarily white or yellow) can be worn for up to 4-8 hours. The respirator should necessarily tightly adjoin the face.
This type of respirator can purify up to 94% of contamination. These products protect breathing organs from the dust of middle toxicity and liquid aerosols based on oil and water. They feature a blue valve and a rubber.
Respirators of the second class can be used up to 6-8 hours. They ensure protection from coronavirus but not guarantee it. For instance, it is not recommended for doctors to wear them when contacting with patients.
The most reliable respirators are referred to the third protection class. They purify up to 99% of air pollution. They are applied while working with toxic dust and radioactive materials. They protect carriers from different viruses and bacteria, as well as capture mold spores.
FFP3 respirators most frequently have red rubbers and a valve. They can be exploited within 6-8 hours. WHO recommends using these products during the contact with people infected with the coronavirus.
Important: apart from the FFP3 respirator, you will need protective glasses to ensure maximum protection from the virus.
Hand hygiene as an important element of coronavirus prevention
Medical masks and respirators won’t protect you from coronavirus infection if you neglect hygiene, namely hand washing and disinfection.
Virus particles can be on different objects, including banknotes, smartphones, handrails on the subway or shuttle buses, door handles, PC keyboards etc. Besides, they remain viable within several days on some surfaces. Contacting with such surfaces and objects and then touching your face, you are risking to catch the coronavirus.
To avoid similar unpleasant consequences and insure yourself against infection, you should regularly wash your hands with soap. As an extra protection, hands should be cleaned with special antiseptics. Such means allow to destroy rapidly viruses, bacteria and fungi accumulated on the skin cover.
Medical masks and hand disinfectors will be useful for health maintenance when combined.
Efficient means for hand disinfection
Medical alcohol and sanitizers sold in common shops possess low disinfecting properties. To protect yourself from infection as much as possible, it’s better to apply agents used for surgical disinfection to clean hands and surfaces.
Let’s examine the top three most efficient antiseptic agents designed to destroy pathogens:
Sterillium. This disinfectant reduces the amount of transient microflora in 100,000 times in just 30 seconds. The agent keeps its protective properties within an hour on bare hand skin and within three hours under medical gloves. It has an antiperspirant effect and does not cause irritation of skin covering.
AHD 2000. It is used to disinfect hands, small surfaces and medical items. The agent protects the skin within three hours, destroys viruses, bacteria and fungi. This antiseptic does not provoke allergic reactions and irritation. It protects skin covering from dryness and leaves no marks.
Aniosgel 85 NPC. It is designed for skin covering disinfection, producing a fast and durable effect. The agent decreases the amount of acquired pathogene microbes in 100,000 times in half a minute. It prevents the exposure of residential microflora from deep skin compartments. Its properties are kept within three hours under medical gloves. Aniosgel 85 NPC does not contain allergens and coloring materials. The agent does not cause irritation and takes care of the epidermis.
Tips on applying antiseptics
Antiseptics should be put on dry hands. The agent should be rubbed into the skin within 16-30 seconds. It’s significant to clean the whole hand area – fingers, palms, upper wrists.
Hands should be always soaked with the agent while conducting hygienic disinfection of the skin.
To avoid coronavirus infection under current circumstances, you should comply with the following rules.
Wash your hands with soap and disinfect them more frequently and thoroughly. Do not touch your face.
Try to keep the distance of at least one meter from people in public places.
Cover the mouth with a napkin or a crease of your elbow when coughing or sneezing. Don’t hold utilized napkins but dispose them immediately.
If you have such symptoms as high temperature, cough and heavy breathing, don’t treat yourself and consult a doctor as fast as possible.
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