Home Print this page Email this page Small font size Default font size Increase font size
Users Online: 983
Home About us Editorial board Search Ahead of print Current issue Archives Submit article Instructions Subscribe Contacts Login 


 
 Table of Contents 
INVITED ARTICLE
Year : 2020  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 6  |  Page : 2606-2607  

The importance of wearing masks in curtailing the COVID-19 pandemic


Department of Clinical Research, Jubilee Regional Medical Center Inc., St. John's, Antigua and Department of Research, American International School of Medicine, Georgia, USA

Date of Submission08-Apr-2020
Date of Decision27-Apr-2020
Date of Acceptance28-Apr-2020
Date of Web Publication30-Jun-2020

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Jose Humphreys
P. O. Box W1280, Fitches Creek Drive, St. George's, Antigua
USA
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/jfmpc.jfmpc_578_20

Rights and Permissions
  Abstract 


Primary care workers are the first point of contact for patients. Therefore, it is critical for this group of workers to understand the significant role of personal protective equipment and the importance of adhering to proper donning, doffing, and discarding protocols in epidemic control. These measures are crucial in curtailing disease transmission and the overall containment of the contagion.

Keywords: Air-borne, corona virus, COVID-19, face mask, infection control, social distancing, virus


How to cite this article:
Humphreys J. The importance of wearing masks in curtailing the COVID-19 pandemic. J Family Med Prim Care 2020;9:2606-7

How to cite this URL:
Humphreys J. The importance of wearing masks in curtailing the COVID-19 pandemic. J Family Med Prim Care [serial online] 2020 [cited 2020 Sep 25];9:2606-7. Available from: http://www.jfmpc.com/text.asp?2020/9/6/2606/287902




  Introductory Statement Top


I was provoked to write this short piece, after I read that it was being touted that wearing masks offer little or no protection, against the corona virus. Throughout this COVID-19 pandemic, many local overnight “experts” have surfaced; some speaking out of turn while others speaking when they ought not to. The problem with the latter is that they relate dangerous and unbridled opinions that will not only confuse the masses but create a greater public health risk by inciting errors of omission or commission; while compromising the adherence to official public health guidance.

This article will hopefully delineate any misunderstanding pertaining to the efficacy of wearing mask to mitigate against viral transmission and other infectious agents that opportunistically use the oropharyngeal route as the main orifice for disease spread.[1],[2],[3] It highlights the significance of using face masks as a reasonable measure of reducing the risk of corona virus transmission. Primary care workers are the first point of contact for patients. Therefore, it is critical for this group of workers to understand the significant role of personal protective equipment and the importance of adhering to proper donning, doffing, and discarding protocols in epidemic control.[1],[3] These measures are crucial in curtailing disease transmission and the overall containment of the contagion.[1]


  The Importance of Wearing Face Masks Top


Over the past few days, there has been a lot of debate on whether masks should be worn or not worn. Let me first commend the government for their proactive step, albeit late in my opinion, to mandate that masks be worn. If the wearing of masks gives a false sense of security then so too are the actions of washing hands, using hand-sanitizers, wearing gloves, and even the practice of social distancing, when practiced in isolation. The truth is, no single preventative action holds the golden key in disease prevention within the context of proper infection control. Each action contributes significantly to the process and complements the other in disease containment. The lack of protection of face masks is actually a notion touted in part by the World Health Organization (WHO) but with all due respect, the WHO has gotten it wrong more than once.[3],[4] A good example is whether or not the corona virus was airborne. Initially, the WHO stated that the corona virus was not transmittable through the air and later they confirmed that it was. What should guide our action and rather, proactions are the issues that uniquely affect our population and common sense practices. With infectious diseases being responsible for about 25% of the annual global deaths, public health system must engage every possible and viable preventative measure and epidemic control protocols to mitigate against disease transmission.[2]

According to infectious disease expert and senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, Amesh A. Adalja, MD, “Face masks can help protect against many respiratory infections that are spread through the droplet route, and that includes coronavirus and the flu.” Speaking to the basis of this recommendation, Dr. Adalja stated that viruses such as the corona virus can spread from an infected person to others through the air by coughing and sneezing or by touching a contaminated surface and then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes prior to hand washing. When a face mask is worn, one can prevent those droplets from coming into contact with one's face or mouth before dropping to the ground.[3],[4]


  Proper Donning and Doffing Top


However, just as important as wearing the mask is the proper donning and doffing (placement and removal) of personal protective equipment (PPE). Perhaps this is where the emphasis should be on proper public education on the use of PPE. The efficacy of PPE is compromised when they are not appropriately used. It is critical to achieve an adequate seal to the face when masks are used.[3],[4]

Here are some useful tips related to wearing mask as recommended by the WHO:[3]

  • Before putting on a mask, clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or preferably washing with soap and water.
  • Cover mouth and nose with mask.[3]
  • Ensure that there are no gaps between your face and the mask.[3]
  • Avoid touching the mask while using it; if you do, clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or preferably wash with soap and water.[3]
  • Replace the mask with a new one as soon as it is damp and do not re-use single-use masks.[3]
  • To remove the mask: remove it from behind (do not touch the front of the mask); discard immediately in a closed bin; clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or preferably wash with soap and water.[3]



  Conclusion Top


Finally, I cannot emphasize enough how important hand-washing is in disease prevention.[2],[4] Given the high level of contagiousness of the corona virus and its relatively illusive behavior, it is crucial that global public health system employ all appropriate disease prevention protocols to reduce the risk of disease transmission. This was a critical practice while I worked in Haiti during the disastrous earthquake in 2010 which gave rise to the awful cholera outbreak that claimed many lives. Likewise, COVID-19 is a severe and highly contagious disease.[5] Its rapid geographical expansion, and its the significant increase in incidence and prevalence can quickly overwhelmed health and public health services globally.[5] We each, therefore, have a personal and collective responsibility to observe, practice, and maintain all standard hygienic protocols in this fight against this deadly viral pandemic.


  A Quick Recap Top


  1. PPE play a significant role in disease prevention.
  2. Primary care physicians are the first line of contact and must adhere to all disease prevention protocols including the proper use of PPE.
  3. Face masks can help protect against many respiratory infections that are spread through the droplet route, and that includes coronavirus and the flu.
  4. Proper donning and doffing technique are also critical measure to prevent disease transmission.
  5. The wearing of a face mask should be short-term to reduce the risk of hypoxia.
  6. Face masks should be worn when in crowded areas or coming in contact with the sick.
  7. Wear a face mask if you have flu-like symptoms, particularly if you are interacting with others. This practice helps to protect others from coming in contact with your secretions and droplets.
  8. Wearing a face mask is not a standalone preventative practice against disease transmission.
  9. No single preventative action holds the golden key in disease prevention within the context of proper infection control.


Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

1.
Adhikari S, Meng S, Wu Y, Mao YP, Ye RX, Wang QZ, et al. Epidemiology, causes, clinical manifestation and diagnosis, prevention and control of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) during the early outbreak period: A scoping review. Infect Dis Poverty 2020;9:29.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Dry S, Leach M. Epidemic narratives. In: Dry S, Leach M, editors. Epidemics: “Science, Governance, and Social Justice”. London, Washington: Routledge; 2010. p. 1-21.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Fischer WA, 2nd, Weber D, Wohl D A. Personal protective equipment: Protecting health care providers in an ebola outbreak. Clin Ther2015;37:2402-10.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Sim SW, Moey KS, Tan NC. The use of face masks to prevent respiratory infection: A literature review in the context of the health belief model. Singapore Med J2014;55:160-7.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Wu Z, McGoogan JM. Characteristics of and important lessons from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak in china: Summary of a report of 72 314 cases from the Chinese center for disease control and prevention. JAMA2020;323:1239-42.  Back to cited text no. 5
    




 

Top
   
 
  Search
 
Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
 Related articles
Access Statistics
Email Alert *
Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)

 
  In this article
   Abstract
   Introductory Sta...
   The Importance o...
   Proper Donning a...
  Conclusion
  A Quick Recap
   References

 Article Access Statistics
    Viewed2865    
    Printed37    
    Emailed0    
    PDF Downloaded187    
    Comments [Add]    

Recommend this journal