Amid fears of the new Kent version of coronavirus that originated in Britain spreading across the world, health experts in the United States are asking people to wear not just one but two masks to safeguard themselves against coronavirus.
According to a recent study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States, wearing two masks exponentially decreases a person's chances of catching Covid-19.
The CDC's report, which comes a year into the pandemic, is the first such report specifically looking at the use of face mask-wearing techniques and its importance in prevention.
Why are scientists asking you to wear two masks?
According to CDC's findings, wearing two masks reduces the chances of persons exchanging viral particles between them by 95 percent. This is more than twice the chances that wearing one mask provides, which is 42-44 percent. Scientists agree the main way the virus is spread is through the air, rather than surfaces, and there's growing evidence that small droplets from breathing and speech that can travel many meters (yards) are a common mode of transmission.
Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in US also called wearing two masks "common sense" as wearing two layers of protection would be more effective than wearing just one.
How should you wear the masks?
Scientists have prescribed wearing a cloth mark on top of a surgical mask to provide the fullest protection. Doctors have also stressed knotting and tucking their masks to ensure a higher degree of blocking. In case you cannot access surgical masks, two cloth masks properly knotted and tucked can also be used.
Is double-masking important?
The new Covid-19 variant that has sprung from Kent in the United Kingdom is causing concern and alarm among health experts. Scientist Sharon Peacock was quoted by The Economic Times as saying that she feared the new variant of Covid-19
would soon sweep over the world.
In India, while overall national deaths have reduced, cases continue to grow. On Thursday, Mumbai reported a sudden spike in Covid-19 cases after the reopening of local trains. Cases more than doubled in the past eleven days in Aurangabad as well.
What are the challenges of double masking?
Wearing masks already cause breathing impediments and continuous use has led to questions about users' respiratory health. Health expert and Baltimore based social epidemiologist Michelle Ogunwole, MD, said that there was initially so much concern about wearing a mask and being able to breathe. "I think part of it is worrying that asking people to do an extra step will be even harder," Ogunwole said.