With the onslaught of COVID-19, Singaporeans are thrown into a panic state of mass purchase in toilet paper, hand-sanitiser and disposable masks. As precious healthcare resources are set to be used on a daily basis as a further preventive measure, Singapore steps up to issue reusable masks for daily use to every household. Perhaps then the question that everyone is wondering is how effective reusable masks are as compared to the disposable ones previously issued?
Depending on the disposable mask, the bacteria filtration effectiveness can get up to 95% or higher specifically with disposable surgical masks. The protection a surgical mask gives is used to stop contaminated large droplets of fluid from both leaving and getting in contact your body. However, because of its thin material, any dampness on it easily compromises the integrity of the mask, making it mostly a one-time-use. However, the government has indicated that with proper care, it is possible to reuse a surgical mask for up to 4 days. It should be noted that the mask’s elastic ear loop must still allow for full adhesion to cheeks so that the air passes through the center and not the sides of the mask. Of course, if any holes are found on the surface of the mask, it should be immediately deemed as unusable.
After it is known that further safety measures must be implemented for the whole nation requiring the use of masks, Singapore has distributed cloth-made reusable masks to save up on surgical masks for healthcare purposes without putting Singapore’s health at risk. As compared to their disposable counterparts, these cloth face-covers are about 50-60% effective in filtration. Our new reusable masks do take a dip in efficiency, which may prompt the following questions: Are reusable masks then effective in countering COVID-19? Why do we not continue using disposable ones?
As long as the nation as a whole cooperates in donning the given masks, the effectiveness of cloth masks can quadruple. Here is how it works: By using the given mask, sick and healthy individuals both have 50% reduction in spreading the virus. Sick and healthy individuals also have 50% reduction in being infected by the virus.
The strength of reusable masks lies in its environmentally friendly nature, and its adequate effectiveness in the face of full cooperation from the people. With this option, disposable surgical masks can be saved for more critical usage in the healthcare sector. In this period of masks shortage, it is important to distribute important resources wisely without compromising the health of the general public. Thus, the reusable masks, though lower in efficiency, is the most ideal option for a renewable source of protection against COVID-19. This effectiveness however, is affected by the cooperation of every citizen, so please remember: if you are stepping out of your house, be socially responsible and put on a mask! Keep yourself safe and others too 🙂
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