Covid-19 is a virus that spreads mainly from person to person through the air and through respiratory particles when an infected person talks, sneezes, coughs, laughs, sings, eats or simply breathes.
As the respiratory particles infected with the virus can be inhaled by a healthy person, they can then in turn become infected.
This is why the virus can spread so quickly, especially when people do not take the necessary precautions to avoid passing it on to their surroundings.
Therefore, wearing a face mask can provide an effective protection to not only those around you, but also to yourself. Although it’s important to remember that nothing is 100% effective against preventing Covid-19.
There are, however, many misconceptions about the wearing of masks which are here debunked:
Myth: You do not need to wear a mask if you are double-jabbed
A person is considered to be fully vaccinated after two weeks of getting their second dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine or two weeks after getting a single dose of the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine.
Despite providing significant protection, the vaccine does not entirely protect an individual from contracting the virus nor spreading it.
Covid-19 is a virus that is constantly evolving and mutating, which scientists are continuously studying and learning new things about.
Bertha Hidalgo of the University of Alabama, Birmingham said: “Vaccine immune-boosting capabilities vary by person.
“For example, we know that in immunocompromised people, the vaccine may not elicit a strong immune response at least compared to non-immunocompromised individuals.”
Consequently, masking up when in crowds or indoor environments with many people, does not only serve the purpose of protecting unvaccinated people, but it also protects inoculated people for whom the vaccine is not as effective.
Furthermore, masking up while with other people can protect you.
Myth: Only sick people need to wear face masks
Healthy individuals not wearing the mask defeats the purpose of helping these so-called “sick people”, or people at-risk.
As Covid-19 spreads from person to person by respiratory droplets, wearing a mask can act as a barrier.
This barrier prevents those around from inhaling these droplets and getting sick from someone deemed “healthy” but might be asymptomatic, therefore unknowingly spreading the virus.
Reports have shown that wearing a cloth face mask protects others from exposure to a person’s droplets by 50% to 95%.
Myth: Unless your mask is N95, it does not work
An N95 mask is a respiratory protective device designed to achieve a very close facial fit and an efficient filtration of air that is usually worn by professional healthcare workers.
N95 masks are the best type of mask, because they filter 95% of particles, however, regular surgical masks provide enough protection too, because they are also around 95% effective.
Cloth masks are between 50 to 80% effective.
Mask: Wearing a mask increases carbon dioxide when breathing, which can make you sick
If wearing masks made people sick, healthcare workers would have not been able to work efficiently, seeing they have to wear masks on a day-to-day basis for extended periods of time.
However, healthcare providers have been wearing masks at work since the 19th century, without facing adverse health reactions.
Research has concluded that there is, in fact, no risk of lowering oxygen levels in healthy adults wearing masks, nor elevating carbon dioxide levels to a dangerous level.
Carbon dioxide will, instead, freely diffuse through the mask when an individual breathes in it.
Myth: Kids do not need to mask up because they do not get sick
The belief that children cannot get sick from contracting Covid-19 has now been debunked by experts, especially following the outbreak of the Delta variant which has already seen teenagers hospitalised and caused childhood deaths.
A small number of children have reportedly developed multisystem inflammatory syndrome, which is a dangerous disease linked to Covid-19.
As it is scientifically proven children can contract the virus and spread it, it is crucial for them to wear the mask, seeing they often forget to cover their mouth when sneezing, or practice social distancing.
Myth: Soaking a mask in mouthwash or alcohol is an effective way to clean it
Most mouthwash contains a little less than 30% alcohol, which is significantly less than the minimum 70% required to kill germs.
Regular liquor such as Vodka, which has an average concentration of 40% alcohol, is also not enough to properly disinfect a mask.
Reusable masks should be thoroughly washed with water and laundry detergent or soap.
Myth: There is no need to practice social distancing when wearing a mask
Social distancing while wearing a mask reasonably limits the spread of Covid-19.
Research has found that face masks create a false sense of security that reduces adherence to other public health measures, including social distancing.
Additionally, a rise in Covid-19 infections have been linked to the violation of social distancing measures.
Myth: You do not need to mask up when outside
Coronavirus can spread outside, because respiratory particles can still linger in the air outside and spread quickly, especially in windy conditions.
In fact, outdoor gatherings and superspreader events such as festivals have often been linked to an increase in Covid-19 infections.
For instance, this year’s Boardmasters surf and music festival held in Newquay has resulted in at least 4,700 people testing positive for Covid-19.
Myth: There is not need to cover the nose while wearing a mask
Nasal negligence is dangerous as the nose has been found to be a key entry point for Covid-19.
Waradon Sungnak, an immunologist at the Wellcome Sanger Institute said: “The expression of these viral entry factors are high in the nose.
“So, it’s a very easy place for the virus to get in and then once it gets in, a place to replicate.
“So if there’s any way for you to block that from happening, I think it’s worth it. So, for me, it doesn’t really make sense if you’re putting on a mask, to not be putting a barrier on the nose.”