As most of us know, in December of last year the first case of a new virus was reported. This was a new species of coronavirus, a type of virus that had been known to infect human’s respiratory tracts for decades. This new species stood out from the rest of its family and has been causing some serious problems over the last several months. Countless deaths, unemployment, mental and physical health issues, and economies struggling to rise from the downfall.
One of the main sources of concern and topics of discussion during the pandemic, and even before the disease caused a full pandemic, has been PPE (personal protective equipment). It was imminent that medical supplies and PPE were going to play a big role in our defense against the virus. The main article of focus has been face masks, without a doubt.
A lot of questioning and discussion came from face masks: are they protecting us? Are they necessary? Who and when should face masks be worn? And, which face masks work and which don’t? The debate is still going on after more than 6 months of confinement. Today, we’ll talk about surgical masks and how much protection they
Let’s start by explaining what surgical masks are. Surgical masks are disposable face masks that are loose-fitting around the face. They act as a physical barrier between the mouth and nose of the wearer and the dangerous particles that are present in the environment. Surgical masks need to be labeled as dental, medical, surgical, or isolation procedure masks, and they shouldn’t be shared between users, just like N95 masks. They can also be worn along with a face shield for more protection.
You might have heard about surgical masks as regular face masks. But, it’s important to point out that not all face masks can be a surgical face mask. These are specifically regulated for use as medical and surgical equipment, and not any type of face mask can substitute for them. The level of thickness of the mask can vary, and according to this, the mask will offer various levels of protection against liquids. So, the thickness of the mask affects the level of protection it offers, but also the breathability of the mask.
Just like N95 masks, surgical masks are disposable face masks, so they should be used only once. After the mask has been used, or if the mask is damaged or the wearer can breathe well, the mask should be removed and discarded appropriately. After handling the use of masks, washing your hands is recommended.
Surgical masks were designed to filter big particles that come from sprays, splashes, splatter, and droplets from other people’s respiratory secretions. This means the mask can only protect against harmful particles that are large, but not smaller ones like dust, smoke, or certain microorganisms like the flu virus. These types of particles can be released in sneezes or coughs.
Since surgical masks are loose-fitting and only protect by filtering large particles, or as a physical barrier between the wearer’s respiratory tract and splashes or sprays of respiratory secretions from others, surgical masks aren’t the most effective for protection against the virus. The USA’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasn’t approved any surgical mask for virus protection, specifically the coronavirus. However, they could protect in the case N95 masks aren’t available.
The coronavirus: what we know, and why you should wear a face mask
As we mentioned, the SARS-CoV-2 is a new species of coronavirus, which is a genus of viruses that have been known to infect the respiratory tract of humans. Usually, coronaviruses cause very mild flu-like symptoms, which aren’t typically deathly. However, this new coronavirus seems to be acting differently from what we know so far.
The first case of this new disease was reported in December of 2019, with the first person to become infected being in Wuhan, China. Since then, the potential for this unknown and scary virus to cause a pandemic was there, and the predictions became a reality around February or March of this year, with most countries reporting increasing cases every day.
Soon after, healthcare systems around the world, including the United States, started to become overwhelmed and collapsing. Even though the virus, in the majority of the cases, is very mild and even asymptomatic, there’s a group of people that are at higher risk of developing a more severe form and complications.
These people include older people, immunocompromised patients, people with comorbidities that include cardiovascular disease, Diabetes Mellitus type 2, obesity, and any other type of chronic illness. In these people, the virus severely affects the lungs and can affect other organs as well, even causing multi-organ failure.
Even though the size of the percentage of people who can be severely affected by the virus is relatively small, when a lot of people get infected at the same time there are too many people getting severely ill. This is why it’s very important to prevent infection as much as we can, and wearing face masks is one of the best ways to achieve this. We must protect the high-risk populations as much as possible.
To do your part in helping prevent the spread of the coronavirus, you can find many options to buy antiviral protective products in bulk or wholesale. 3M N95 masks like the 3M 8511 and 3M 8210 models, KN95 masks, reusable cloths masks, and special sizes for kids can be easily found for sale online. Anyone who uses a face mask is doing their part in this situation.