DURBAN – Although it has been suggested that wearing face masks could be useful if you’re sick in order to prevent you from sneezing or coughing into somebody’s face -It is certainly not an iron-clad guarantee that you won’t get sick.
Viruses can also transmit through the eyes and tiny viral particles, known as aerosols can penetrate masks. However, masks are effective at capturing droplets, which is a main transmission route of Coronavirus. Some studies have estimated a roughly five-fold protection versus no barrier alone (although others have found lower levels of effectiveness).
According to David Heymann, who led WHO’s infectious disease unit at the time of the SARS epidemic in 2002-2003, although there is really not a lot of evidence (to support wearing masks).
“A mask that is used to stop getting an infection is sometimes not very effective because people take it off to eat, many times they are worn improperly (and) if they get wet and somebody sneezes on that mask it could pass through,” he said.
If you’re showing symptoms of Coronavirus, or have been diagnosed, wearing a mask can also protect others. So masks are crucial for health and social care workers looking after patients and are also recommended for family members who need to care for someone who is ill – ideally both the patient and carer should have a mask.
For LIVE updates on the Coronavirus pandemic, follow us on Twitter : @sacoronamonitor