Updated: Nov 7, 2020
There’s a lot of confusion about facemasks out there. Most of us follow the rules, some choose to disregard them, despite the risk to themselves and others. So, what is the reasoning behind mask-wearing?
First of all, you need to know how the SARS-CoV-2 virus is spread. It’s mainly by respiratory droplets that are breathed out by infected people. These droplets are produced not just by coughing and sneezing, but also by speaking and even breathing. And they vary in size.
Bigger droplets fall out of the air relatively quickly, perhaps on to surfaces, and don’t spread as far. They’re usually spread within a couple of metres – hence the social isolation recommendations.
But, there are smaller droplets too, often called aerosols. These can spread further, and can float in the air for longer. That’s why there is more of a concern about people spending more time inside, especially if there is shouting, singing or heavy breathing, like in gyms. But even a minute of talking can apparently release around 1000 viral particles! Which suggests that removing your mask when you’re chatting, isn’t such a bright idea!
Wearing masks helps to reduce the spread of large droplets from coughing and the like. But it also reduces that aerosol transmission. So, you’re less likely to spread the virus around if you’ve got it - and you may not know it if you’re asymptomatic as around 40% of people may be. But, how effective they are depends on the type of mask with some cloth masks offering little protection to those around you.
But what about your own protection? Wearing masks can reduce the amount of viral particles that you breathe in too. How effectively they do that will, again, depend on the type of mask. But, as an added bonus, they discourage you from touching your mouth which may spread the virus too.
Surgical masks offer more protection, mainly against transmission. But those working with infected patients or in high-risk environments may need full category 3 PPE masks.
For more technical information and mask options, have a look at our product page.