The Union Health Ministry on Monday warned all states authorities against the use of N-95 masks with a valved respirator, stating these can be detrimental as the valves do not prevent the COVID-19 virus from escaping out of it.
As soon the news of coronavirus pandemic was announced, face masks, hand sanitizers, and aerosol disinfectants and started flying off the shelves overnight. People started especially hoarding the N-95 respirators as it was said to be the best preventive mask against the deadly virus.
After six months of the outbreak and learning more about the virus, we are now aware of the transmission and spread.
On July 20, Prof (Dr) Rajiv Garg, Director-General of Health Services (DGHS), issued the directive in a letter to the health secretaries of all states.
“It has been observed that there is an inappropriate use of the N-95 mask (particularly with valved respirator) by the public other than designated health workers. In this regard, I would like to draw your attention to the Advisory on the use of home-made protective cover for face and mouth available on the website of the MoHFW,” the letter says.
It further says N-95 masks/ respirators though, are adopted as a preventive measure against the coronavirus; however, does not prevent the virus from escaping out of the mask.
What are N-95 masks/respirators?
According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) general COVID-19 guidelines, the N-95 respirator mask is a respiratory protective device with high filtration efficiency to airborne particles. N-95 respirators filter out at least 95 per cent of airborne particles and provide the requisite air seal to the wearer; such masks are designed to achieve a very close facial fit.
Type of N-95 respirators that you need to use:
While standard N-95 respirators masks, when worn correctly, can significantly reduce exposure to airborne particles, those with built-in exhalation valves only filter the air you breathe in and not the air you exhale out, which puts others at risk.
Those with a valve—are not beneficial as much as you have been told. Avoid wearing those mask which has valves or openings on the front as it might be a ‘one-way valve’ which will protect only the person wearing it. Such masks will not filter the aerosols out of your mouth, which immediately puts those around you at risk.
The idea of wearing a face mask is to protect one from any respiratory illness; also, it protects others from any infections. A mask that will protect only the one wearing it and put others in risk will not help in containing the coronavirus.
An N-95 respirator with a ‘two-way valve’ is capable of filtering out particles during both inhaling and exhaling. However, these are mostly used by health workers or professionals as their exposure to the virus is high.
The Government had in April advised the use of a home-made mask or protective cover asking people to wear it while stepping out of the house. It had also stressed on the fact that such masks should be washed every day and any clean cotton cloth can be used for making the mask.
As Indian coronavirus infection case infection has crossed 1.16 million as of today, with over 28,000 deaths, the nation is not in a position for further risks.