A N95 face mask may protect against coronavirus–at least to some degree.
A certain type of face mask effectively protects doctors and nurses from catching coronavirus (COVID-19), the viral disease that has infected more than 80,000 people since December 2019. Consumers can also buy these face masks protect against, though global supply shortages have occurred. As of today’s date, American health authorities are encouraging Americans to stop buying masks because of shortages.
SARS-CoV-2, COVID-19 spreads to new hosts when infected people transfer virus through their sneezes and coughs. Those who come into close contact with infected people face the highest risk of infection. This means that the medical staff treating sick patients are among the most likely to catch the disease. That is why over 40% of coronavirus infections in China occur in hospitals. At first, Chinese healthcare workers did not understand they were facing a new virus. Many did not take precautions and have been infected. Several healthcare workers have died.
The high rate of infection may be blamed on inadequate hand disinfection and sparse use of N95 respirators which are designed to filter out virus particles.
The N95 Designation Means Reliable Particle Blockage
The “N95” designation means that the respirators block out at least 95 percent of tiny particles (0.3 microns in diameter), according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The higher designation known as “N99” blocks 99% percent of particles.
“N95 respirators, no surprise, protect against health care acquisition of the virus,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious-diseases specialist at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee. The small study is “reassuring in that sense,” although there was no reason to think that N95 respirators wouldn’t block out the novel coronavirus effectively, he added.
Mask shortages have plagued China since January. Now, China is increasing production of basic medical supplies. China is also streamlining international purchasing which trade restrictions against the United States recently damaged.
N95 Mask Can Help If Used Correctly
A N95 face mask is not a simple surgical face mask. They form a tight seal around the wearer’s face. Wearers must work harder than normal to inhale and exhale through the particle filter. They must occasionally take breaks from wearing the equipment. Each time a wearer takes a break, he must be careful that the mask is sealed properly and has not been damaged.
Medical staff use N95 face masks with direct exposure to infectious disease. But civilians can train to use the respirators at home. However, without training, the masks are no more effective at blocking the virus than an average surgical mask.