One of the major teachings that can be taken from the ongoing pandemic is to be responsible for our actions. Being aware of the surroundings and taking appropriate precautionary measures are our best chance of surviving this global threat.
While we all know how important it is to cover our nose and mouth when stepping out of our homes in today’s time, we also need to be sure of doing so, efficiently. Efficiency is the key word here which even comes to play, not only when taking care of ourselves, but even when trying to do it for others. Corporates that are trying to help out the society by providing food and masks to the people who are not able to afford it, have to do it in an efficient manner. Near about 80% of the CSR budget for Indian corporates is getting covered by Corona. All FICCI members have donated large amount of money in the fight against Covid-19. The masks being provided should be able to reduce the risk of catching the infection or else it has no meaning.
Studies show that wearing any kind of mask, be it a scarf or a t-shirt used to cover up the face, is 24% - 99% more effective in reducing the risk of catching the virus, depending on the type of mask and duration of the exposure, than wearing no mask, in an exposed environment. Risk reduction gradually decreases with the increase in duration of exposure.
The best kind of masks available in the market are the N99 masks. They can reduce the risk of infection upto 99%, depending on the duration of exposure. These are not very easily available in the market and should be left for the medical professionals or individuals who are facing the threat at a much closer level on a daily basis. The next best options in line are the N95’s and surgical masks. Research done by the Journal of Hospital Infection shows that vacuum cleaner filters, that can be inserted in the filter pockets of regular cloth masks, reduce the risk of infection by 58% - 84%, depending on the duration of exposure. Other, not very common materials proven effective in filtering the airborne particles, are cotton blend fabrics and tea towels.
Although masks and social distancing do help us from being infected, but it's still important to limit ourselves from going out in public places for a long duration of time. Studies show that the longer we stay in an exposed environment, the effectiveness of mask keeps reducing. The size of the virus transporting droplets coming out of a person’s sneeze or speech is a very important factor. Larger sized droplets tend to drop out of the air faster than the smaller one’s. This is one of the major reasons for suggesting social distancing. Humidity also plays a role in the size of the aerosol. If the temperature is more humid, the aerosol will remain large for longer duration and drop out of the air faster. Masks with denser materials are better at filtering the air.
It is extremely important to protect ourselves and others from getting infected by acting responsibly. Panicking is not a solution, being aware and pre-cautious are going to help us in getting out of this pandemic, faster and stronger. The most basic of precautions include staying home as much as possible, washing hands often, wearing a mask when stepping out and avoiding, unnecessary touching of face and coming in close contact of others.