How Face Masks Help 'Flatten the Curve'

    How Face Masks Help 'Flatten the Curve'

    With the growing global spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), different preventive measures have been issued by authorities for the public.

    These measures ensure that you reduce your own risk of contracting the disease, as well as preventing its spread to others.

    Aside from staying at home, one of the most important measures to protect oneself from COVID-19 is wearing a face mask, or any type of cloth that will cover your mouth and nose. This is critical in preventing the spread of the coronavirus.

    How face masks can prevent COVID-19 transmission

    COVID-19 is spread via respiratory droplets, so a face mask can prevent the wearer (if he or she is a carrier) from infecting others.

    Depending on the type of mask, it may also protect the wearer from contracting COVID-19.

    What is key is that the mask securely covers the nose and mouth, and that it is worn at all times, especially in public.

    With face masks sold out in different grocery stores and drugstores, medical experts have advised the public to not hoard the medical supplies and prioritize those who are sick and those who are most at risk of contracting the virus due to their work.

    Here are some pointers on wearing face masks:

    • Make sure your hands are clean before putting on the face mask.
    • When putting on or removing the face mask, touch only the strings of the mask. Avoid touching the cloth as the virus can be spread to your hands.
    • After removing or disposing the face mask, always wash your hands with soap or sanitizer.
    • Properly dispose of your masks in the trash bin.

    Masks are not 100% foolproof when it comes to shielding people from the novel coronavirus, but they are effective in slowing down the spread of the deadly virus.

    Face masks may give us greater confidence in keeping us protected, but proper hygiene and maintaining good health are equally important in ensuring that we build a stronger defense against illness.

    How face masks and other preventive measures slow down COVID-19 transmission

    How face masks can prevent COVID-19

    The wearing of face masks is only one of the many recommendations to help flatten the curve. Aside from wearing masks, the public is advised to wash their hands often and to practice social distancing.

    With the Philippines’s population reaching a little less than 110 million, people may find following the social distancing rule very difficult, especially for those living in congested cities under an enhanced community quarantine.

    At the public market, citizens are not following the one-meter social distancing recommendation, increasing the chances of transmitting the virus to others. Face masks can help in this regard.

    How can face masks help prevent the spread of COVID-19? Face masks can catch respiratory droplets that are expelled when a person who is infected sneezes, coughs, or talks.

    But regardless of whether a person is infected with the coronavirus or not, it is better to be safe and wear a face mask at all times in public.

    Face masks, like the surgical-grade masks, should be thrown away and replaced after every four hours of use.

    This is because the mask may harbor bacteria and viruses, causing more harm to the wearer. Remember to properly dispose of the masks by throwing them in the trash can.

    How face masks can prevent COVID-19: Who should wear them?

    How face masks can prevent COVID-19

    Frontliners, especially doctors and nurses, are at high risk of being infected by COVID-19. Others who are also at risk are the volunteers, government leaders, supermarket attendants, delivery personnel, and all those who work in the service industry.

    They are advised to wear face masks at all times, especially in public, as they may be highly contagious even if they do not exhibit any symptoms.

    The face mask is a necessary precaution as the healthcare system is already overwhelmed and there are limited testing kits available. The face mask is a vital measure that significantly prevents the transmission of the virus to others.

    Everyone – from frontliners to persons under investigation and persons under monitoring – are highly advised to wear face masks, especially in public.

    Who are those considered as ‘Persons Under Investigation’?

    Persons Under Investigation, also known as PUIs, are those who may have had exposure to the novel coronavirus and are showing symptoms of the disease. They are required to seek medical attention if they are experiencing moderate to severe symptoms. They are encouraged as well to wear a mask to prevent spreading the virus to their family members, public, and frontliners.

    Who are those considered as ‘Persons Under Monitoring’?

    Unlike PUIs, PUMs are those who do not show any signs and symptoms of COVID-19. They are required to self-isolate in their homes. Even if they do not exhibit any symptoms, they are encouraged to wear a mask in case they spread it to those they come in contact with regularly.

    Key Takeaways

    In addition to washing your hands frequently, maintaining good hygiene, and practicing social distancing, wearing a face mask is one of the highly recommended means to slow down the spread of COVID-19.

    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Written by

    January Velasco, MD

    General Practitioner

    Updated Jul 20, 2020