Mumbai: Masks not must, but will save you, say doctors

Swapnil MishraUpdated: Friday, April 01, 2022, 11:29 PM IST
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(PTI Photo/Kunal Patil)

Covid-19 restrictions are now a thing of the past, but city doctors have urged everyone to continue wearing masks for the next two to three months. The state health department and experts believe that the next two weeks will be crucial and all districts have been asked to keep a close watch on the pandemic situation and report if any surge is witnessed.

A senior doctor from the public health department said, “N95 masks prevent 95 per cent of particles in the air around you from entering your nose and mouth. Frontline workers like bank employees, post office workers, rail and bus ticketing agents, civic staff, and people who encounter thousands of people each day should only use N95 masks. They don’t get saturated even after a few days of normal (non-dusty) use, so can be reused two to three times.”

State surveillance officer Dr Pradip Awate said citizens cannot show lax behaviour of any kind. He said, “Moreover, citizens should complete both doses of vaccines and senior citizens should take the booster dose as soon as possible.”

Dr Lancelot Pinto, consultant pulmonologist at PD Hinduja Hospital and MRC, said there is no doubt that masks prevent transmission. However, they work only when they are worn in the right way. This tends to only happen when they are worn voluntarily. He said, “I think there is a need to sensitise people to wear masks when they are ill (to protect others), and when they are in the middle of high-risk settings (to protect themselves). Mandating masks by law was never the answer; education and helping people make the right decisions are.”

Dr Pinto further added that new variants may appear, and we will need to watch out for the more virulent (cause more severe disease) ones. “We need to ensure that vulnerable individuals are protected with vaccination, and boosted when warranted. I do not think we should sensationalize newer variants and cause panic, unless they are indeed likely to cause more severe disease,” he said.

Dr Avinash Bhondwe, past president of the Maharashtra chapter of the Indian Medical Association, said though some countries have been witnessing the fourth wave, the chances of such an upsurge in India is very less. The BA.2 subvariant of Omicron found in these countries already hit India during the third wave, he said.

Masks To Consider

N95, KN95, or KF94: Made using global standard material; if used accurately, ensuring proper fit, they can give 95% protection

Surgical mask: If made using good three-ply filtering materials, surgical masks can give protection against large particles and some tiny particles. But they don’t seal the face properly.

Cloth mask: Only effective when worn together with a surgical mask.

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