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Face Masks: What Doctors Say About Their Role

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https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2020/01/29/800531753/face-masks-what-doctors-say-about-their-role-in-containing-coronavirus

npr.org

Face Masks: What Doctors Say About Their Role
As the Wuhan coronavirus continues to spread, officials in China are urging citizens to wear masks in public to stop the spread of the virus - and cities in China as well as other parts of Asia are reportedly running out of face masks. But can a mask really keep you from catching the virus?

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Protection By Face Masks

Due to the Wuhan virus spreading across the world, the use of face masks might seem a good means of protection.

The N95 mask, which is a heavy-duty mask offers better protection (95% of air...

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Protect Yourself Wisely

  • Cloth masks, which are reusable and washable, offer no real protection while being potentially harmful in case there is any moisture retention or dirt in them due to their being reused.
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A common effort

As the global spread of the virus accelerates, this sort of do-it-yourself response to the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) is becoming very common, with medical researchers, busines...

Safety of homemade devices

So far, the evidence is insufficient and mixed; there are a few ideas that show promise,  but there is also some concern that improvised measures could make things worse.
The last thing you want is for healthcare workers to have a false sense of protection and perform a risky procedure on a patient.

Making masks

The medical opinion on homemade masks is mixed. None of the everyday materials you could use to make masks work as well as a commercial surgical mask, but the homemade versions do prevent some microbes from getting through, suggesting these substitute masks are better than nothing at all: they could theoretically slow the spread of disease by helping keep the virus from escaping people’s noses and mouths.

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The mask

The mask - a flimsy polymer cup - fits tightly around the face and is capable of filtering 95% of airborne particles, such as viruses, from the air.

The firsts masks were ...

Surgical masks

Doctors started wearing the first surgical masks in 1897. The masks were not designed to prevent airborne disease - that is still not the case today - but to prevent doctors from coughing or sneezing droplets onto wounds during surgery.

The first modern respirator

During 1920, a plague broke out between a shared jurisdiction of China and Russia. The Chinese Imperial Court brought in a young doctor named Lien-teh Wu that determined that the plague was not spread by fleas but through the air. He expanded upon the surgery masks he'd seen in the West, and made it from gauze and cotton and added several layers of cloth to filter inhalations.

When the Spanish flu arrived in 1918, the mask was well-known among scientists and the public.

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Effectiveness of face masks

Effectiveness of face masks

At the beginning of the current outbreak, there were a lot of assurances from the media, governments and medical organizations that face masks are ineffective and could potentially increase our ris...

Face masks and viruses

According to research, face masks (surgical and N95) were the most consistently effective way of reducing the transmission of viruses similar to the new one, if worn properly and consistently.
Consistently wearing a mask in public was associated with a 70% reduction in the risk of catching such viruses in Beijing.

Fighting the flu

Studies concerning the flu are more in line with current advice about prioritizing hand washing.
Studies about face masks being helpful are somewhat inconsistent.

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