Wearing a double facemask could offer a higher level of protection against COVID-19, a new study by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has revealed.
According to the CDC study, wearing a cloth mask over a surgical mask may provide better protection against tiny COVID-19 particles.
The study report released on February 10 also indicated that surgical mask may not be providing enough protection against COVID-19.
Surgical masks, CDC said, “do not provide complete protection from germs and other contaminants because of the loose fit between the surface of the mask and your face,” noting that wearing a cloth mask over the surgical mask, or knotting the mask for a tighter fit could help reduce the gaps.
According to the CDC study, simulated breathing experiments revealed surgical mask alone prevented only 42 per cent of small particles that could transmit COVID-19, while the protection increased to 65 per cent when with ‘knotting and tucking’. Cloth mask, the study says block only about 44 per cent of small particles.
The researchers, however, disclosed that double-masking by wearing a cloth mask over a surgical mask increased the protection to about 83 per cent.
Reacting to the study in an interview with PUNCH HealthWise, Medical Virologist at Adeleke University, Ede, Osun State, Dr. Elijah Kolawole, said the research was only providing information on how to better prevent the spread of COVID-19.
According to the virologist, it may be necessary for Nigerians to embrace the recommendation of the study to better protect themselves against COVID-19 infection.
“It is a good thought for us to adopt the study, and I am in full support. In community settings, cloth mask may be used to prevent community spread of infections by sick or asymptomatic infected persons and the public should be educated about their correct use.
“Cloth face masks are less efficacious as compared to medical-grade masks, however, something is better than nothing, therefore, it may be transiently used in closed, crowded indoor, and outdoor public spaces during highly contagious viral pandemics like COVID-19,” he said.
When asked if Nigerians would embrace wearing double masks when the level of compliance to wearing masks in public is still very poor, Dr. Kolawole said he is indeed quite unhappy with the low level of compliance, noting that it was important to encourage the general populace more about the need for a facemask.
On the possibility of breathing difficulty when wearing double masks, the virologist said breathing will not be affected.
“I don’t think this will make breathing difficult. We have to educate our people on when and how to use the face mask depending on their health status.
“What is more important is the use of appropriate fabric for the facemask, not all fabric is qualified for such purpose.
“Cloth masks don’t just reduce the probability of infectious organisms reaching a person, but also the number of infectious organisms as a lower number of infecting organisms leads to less severe disease “what is referred to and called reduced viral load.
“It is important for people to know that the effectiveness of facemasks depends on consistent and correct use, including covering the nose and mouth adequately.
“Touching the front of the mask, pulling it down intermittently to smoke, drink or eat and reuse of disposable masks can contaminate the hands, then the wearer’s face or nearby fomites or surfaces,” he said.
Also reacting to the study, a researcher and pharmaceutical scientist with the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development, Prof. Martin Emeje said the CDC study was was based on evidence.
“It is evidence-based. Unlike here, the advice coming out of CDC was based on a scientific study.
“However, first let me tell you that, you are not relevant in that study.
“The earlier we wake up from our slumber the better for us.
“Serious countries are not sleeping. They are looking for all possible remedies to deal with COVID-19 in their own countries. We should also be researching to find out the best strategies for handling the pandemic here.
“We are not Americans, neither are we Europeans. The way we currently operate is not right. When they say use linen, we jump for linen, use Dettol, we use Dettol, stop eating ‘Eba’, we just stop. It is a shame.
“Last December, I warned that the vaccines may behave differently in our population, have you now seen the latest report from South Africa?
“These things are basic in pharmacy training, but, our country is populated with people who are more interested in the business of procurement than burning the midnight candle on research and development.
“You can make the penalty for not wearing a facemask capital punishment, the people in rural areas will not wear it, so doubling it is a story for them.
“Even in the heart of Abuja, most people don’t wear a facemask.
“You may also visit the departure lounge of our airports and see the hypocrisy. Before you are allowed to get a ticket, you must maintain physical distance, but once you get to the departure lounge, people are packed together.
“This is compounded by airlines shifting departure time anyhow. At times, a flight scheduled for 10 am end up leaving at 5.30 pm. That’s how many hours of keeping people in an enclosure where there’s no cross ventilation?
“Then you move into the plane and it is filled. The same physically distanced passengers at the ticketing counters are now resting their arms on one another. Who is deceiving who?
“My position is that we must decide from local studies how best to handle our problems,” he said.
All rights reserved. This material, and other digital content on this website, may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from PUNCH.
The post Study reveals double-masking offers more protection against COVID-19 appeared first on Healthwise.