During my project, I, like many others, turned out to be locked in another country. An additional irritant for going out into the streets for me was masks. I do a lot during my project, I draw a lot, including toxic paints. Therefore, I don’t get used to putting on a respirator, and start work. But, not in order to go to the store. Additionally, I was furious that the WHO was beginning to “change shoes,” and said that all the same, masks helped. I decided to sort this out and give a detailed answer to all the volunteers in Europe, and you yourself decide to wear or not to wear, that’s the question.
We first published these cards on January 30, 2020. After that, they were updated several times due to changing recommendations and new data. On June 5, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) changed its recommendations for wearing masks, so we decided to update the cards again.
In the new recommendations, WHO very carefully invited governments to consider whether to advise everyone outside the house to wear masks. More precisely, we are talking about people without symptoms of a new coronavirus infection, when they can not keep the required distance. Previously, WHO recommended wearing masks only to people with symptoms of SARS, medical professionals, as well as those who care for a sick person at home.
And why did WHO change recommendations?
New data has appeared - though not very reliable. For example, on June 1, the Lancet scientific publication published a WHO-systematic review of research on the use of masks. Its authors found that masks protect employees of medical organizations. But there are still very few works that would study the effectiveness of masks in other conditions.
But there is more evidence that people who have a coronavirus, but have no symptoms, can infect others - through drops that spread, for example, during a conversation.
With asymptomatic disease, masks can protect others?
Yes, albeit with reservations. These considerations forced the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to update their recommendations at the end of March: fabric masks are now advised to everyone who visits public places where it is difficult to keep their distance. Especially if coronavirus is common in this area. But at the same time, WHO notes that, most likely, patients without symptoms are not as dangerous as people with them: when coughing and sneezing, drops with viruses spread further than with speech.
But just in case, is it better to wear masks for everyone?
In fact, this is a difficult question, and the answer to it depends on various factors.
First of all, it is important how the new coronavirus infection spreads. It is now known that there are two most important transmission routes. Firstly, these are drops that fly out of a person when he coughs, sneezes and, for example, speaks. They quickly fall down and if they end their journey on the mucous membranes of another person, he can get sick. Secondly, it is contact with infected surfaces. If a sick person coughs in his palm, then touches the doorknob, and then you grabbed it and rubbed your nose, this could also lead to infection. Another possible way the virus spreads is through smaller drops that remain in the air for a long time. However, now there is no data suggesting that under normal conditions, when you do not perform complex manipulations in the intensive care unit, such particles may be in the air. Masks can protect you if a person coughs at a distance of less than two meters. That is why they are necessary for medical workers, who often find themselves in this position. But they will not save them from infection through contact with a contaminated surface - as well as from smaller drops (if an ordinary person can meet them at all).