Face Masks: Why they’re vital in times of COVID-19

What is a Face Mask

A face mask is a protective covering device to wear over the nose and mouth to prevent the people from inhaling harmful substances, such as dust, pollution, and deadly viruses. It also prevents you from passing on the same harmful virus or bacteria onto anyone else in case you are already infected.

 

Importance of Wearing a Face Mask in COVID-19

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Reason

  • As we know, Coronavirus is transmitted through the droplets present mainly in the air. So, when a person coughs or sneezes, the droplets are released which can infect a healthy person nearby. Wearing a mask prevents the dispersion of droplets into the air.
  • Face masks are serving a greater purpose in various other sectors. These masks are protecting professionals like doctors, nurses, policemen, sanitization workers, etc. who are at the frontlines. They’re the ones who are highly prone to getting infected.

 

Stats/Evidence

  • According to a study by Indian Express, up to 45% of the deaths projected in New York over the next two months could be prevented if 80% of the people started using some sort of mask.
  • Jagmeet Singh, Professor of Cardiology at Harvard Medical School, also stated “When people step out of their homes, they should consider others as possibly infected, and themselves as possible contagion. If they wear a mask, there is a two-way protection. They prevent the possibility of infecting others, and also protect themselves.”
  • Using a mask during such a pandemic prevents community transmission of the disease. If a large number of people start wearing masks, there are chances of reducing the number of cases.

 

Types of Face Masks

1- Surgical Masks 

Surgical Masks are often blue with white borders. They are a part of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) kits that fit loosely across your nose and mouth. These masks shield against the large droplets that come from a sick person’s cough or sneeze. But they’re too loose to protect against all germs, so they may not block the tiniest particles that may carry coronavirus.

Use- Healthcare professionals wear surgical masks during surgery to catch the bacteria shed in liquid droplets and aerosols from the wearer’s mouth and nose. Common people also wear this mask.

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2- N95 Mask 

A N95 mask filters out at least 95% of airborne particles including large and small particles. These masks have tangled fibers to filter pathogens in the air, and they fit very close to the face. The edges form a seal around the mouth and nose.

According to NIOSH, “respirators are rated ‘N,’ if they are Not resistant to oil, ‘R’ if somewhat Resistant to oil, and ‘P’ if strongly resistant (oil Proof).”

Respirators that filter out 95 percent of airborne particles are given a rating of 95. So, N95 respirators filter out 95 percent of airborne particles, however, they aren’t resistant to oil. The respirators that filter out at least 99 percent of airborne particles have a 99 rating. This is important because some industrial oils can degrade the filter performance. In the case of COVID-19, N95 works.

Use – The general public should not use these masks. These are critical supplies we should reserve for health care workers and other medical professionals at the frontline.

 

3- Home Made Cloth Face Mask

It is advised to common people to use a homemade cloth mask at this time of crisis. Surgical masks and N95 respirators are in critical demand, and the government asks that citizens reserve them for use by healthcare workers.

We can make an effective cloth face mask from household or other common materials like t-shirts, coffee filters, bandanas, and other cotton clothes. The masks should be disposed of after each use, or washed before wearing again.

 

How To Use a Face Mask

Since we’re using masks on a daily basis, we should know the proper use of the masks to avoid any risk of getting infected. The WHO has recommended certain steps to follow while wearing and removing the mask. Read below

Steps to wear the mask

  1. Clean your hands before touching the mask
  2. Inspect the mask for any damage
  3. Adjust the mask to your face without leaving any gaps or sides
  4. Cover your mouth nose and chin

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Steps to remove the mask

  1. Avoid touching your mask
  2. Clean your hands before removing the mask
  3. Remove the mask by the strap behind the ear or head
  4. Take out the mask keeping away from your face
  5. Store the mask in a clean plastic bag if it’s not dirty and you are planning to use it again.
  6. If dirty, wash the mask in soap or detergent using hot water.
  7. Clean your hands after removing the mask

 

Here are few tips for face mask precautions

  • People who have troubled breath or are unable to remove the mask without help should avoid using masks.
  • Avoid putting masks on children under 2 years of age.
  • Please avoid using face masks as a substitute for social distancing. According to CNN, a lab test suggests that 50% of coronavirus cases have no symptoms. In such a case, you’re at risk if you’re standing very close to the infected person, even if you’re wearing a mask.

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When & Where to Use Face Masks

You don’t need to wear a mask when you’re at home. But don’t forget to wear a face mask when you step out of your house for work or buying essentials.

A face mask is a very essential equipment of a PPE Kit. BPL Medical Technologies’ PPE Kit covers the whole body to ensure minimizing the risk of getting in contact with any virus, germs, and bacteria. This PPE kit is made with high-quality non-absorbent materials that prevent it from blood, water, and chemicals.

Always keep in mind that we must take all precautions necessary to keep our families safe, and to avoid burdening our medical facilities. In this case, face masks are a simple measure we can take to ensure we’re reducing the risk of possible infection. For more concerns, please rely on verified sources like the WHO to avoid spreading misinformation or panic. We’re all stronger together

Ventilators: Life Savers in Times of COVID-19

A Ventilator is the most widely used short-term life support technique. It has been proven to be the defining intervention of intensive care medicine. The outbreak of COVID-19 has led to huge demand for ventilators, as infected patients especially those who suffer acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) are in a dire need of this life support system to aid their respiratory functions.

Importance of ventilator in times of COVID-19

Mild forms of COVID-19 cause symptoms of breathing problems, which can be supported by non-invasive methods. But in severe cases, the disease damages the lungs leading to pneumonia, where the patients suffer from high fever and breathing difficulties. In such cases, mechanical ventilators are often used. They assist the patient’s breathing by pumping oxygen into the lungs and expelling carbon dioxide.

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, there has been an acute shortage of many medical essentials such as hand sanitizers, face masks, etc. The need and importance of the ventilators have also suddenly amplified. If the proper timely assistance is not provided, patients have a higher risk of mortality.

 

Shortage of ventilators- what India is doing

India has been confined to complete lockdown to control the further spread of the disease. In the face of this pandemic, the sudden increased requirement of essentials like face masks, hand sanitizers, and ventilators has caused a worldwide shortage. To help increase production, many Indian companies have come together to help.

Amongst the many sectors contributing to the cause, Indian Railways has stepped up tremendously, from turning coaches into quarantine zones and helping to deliver essential products across the country.

The  World Bank also reported on how Women Self Helps Groups (SHG) have stepped up to contribute to this crisis. They are playing a critical role in helping to meet the shortfall of protective equipment like masks, sanitizers, and other PPE.  Over the past couple of weeks, these women have produced more than 1 million cotton masks, helping equip police personnel and health workers, while being able to earn a living.

According to the CDDEP, “the researchers estimated that India has approximately 1.9 million hospital beds, 95 thousand ICU beds, and 48 thousand ventilators. Most of the beds and ventilators in India are concentrated in seven states – Uttar Pradesh (14.8%), Karnataka (13.8%), Maharashtra (12.2%), Tamil Nadu (8.1%), West Bengal (5.9%), Telangana (5.2%) and Kerala (5.2%)”.

In times of need, India has always succeeded in making desi-innovations which actually proves to be successful. Indian start-ups are coming up with unconventional systems to meet the needs.

Such innovations help the country and provide much needed boost to face the situation and a hope that we can cope up with the crisis.

 

What is a Ventilator

A ventilator is a medical device used to provide breathing support for ill and critical patients. It is designed to move breathable air into and out of the lungs, to provide breathing for a patient who is physically unable to breathe, or breathing insufficiently. Since COVID-19 virus directly attacks the lungs of the patients, they need an external support system to help them breathe.

 

The function of a ventilator

When it comes to life-saving moments, every second is critical. Ventilators pump air into the lungs and also support the exhalation of carbon dioxide from the lungs; this process is known as ‘ventilation’. Mechanical ventilators are used in situations where the patients require continuous ventilation, i.e. COVID-19 affected patients.

 

According to NHLBI, some other cases where mechanical ventilators are primarily used are:

  • During surgery, when a patient is under Anaesthesia, to provide continuous breathing support
  • Brain injury or Stroke
  • Pneumonia and other advanced lung infection due to COPD or ILD

 

Types of ventilators

There are mainly two broad categories of Ventilators. It further has some subtypes under mechanical ventilators.

1- Bag Valve Mask (BVM)

2- Mechanical Ventilator

Bag valve mask

Due to the current pandemic, ventilators and other respiratory devices are more crucial than ever. Ambu-bags or bag valve masks (BVM), are manual respiratory devices, used to provide pressure ventilation to people who are not breathing or having breathing difficulty. These are typically used in situations where access to a ventilator is difficult, i.e. emergency settings or out of hospital situations. They are also used to provide temporary support to the patients in hospitals where a mechanical ventilator is available. However, it has some shortcomings, including inconsistent delivery, leakage, and gas pressure on the stomach. Overall, these have been proven useful for out of hospital or emergency cases.

Mechanical Ventilator

According to the NCBI, a mechanical ventilator supplies oxygen and removes carbon dioxide from the patient through a breathing tube. Doctors can make the necessary adjustments based on the patient’s needs. The machines mimic the natural breathing process by providing a steady supply of gas at a controllable rate. It’s meant to provide breathing support to patients who are unable to breathe themselves.

Two categories fall under mechanical ventilators: invasive and non-invasive ventilation. Invasive ventilation is where the tube is passed through the mouth, such as an endotracheal tube or the skin with a tracheostomy tube. 

Invasive Ventilators

Invasive Ventilators can be further divided into Intensive Care Ventilators, which are mainly for adults, and Neonatal Ventilators for infants.

Intensive-care ventilators — These ventilators have a full variety of features needed to make a unit appropriate for a broad range of intensive care applications.

Requirement: As per NCBI– “patients ventilated by these devices can range in age from neonates to adults and can vary in condition from very critical, unstable patients to relatively stable postoperative patients. While intensive care ventilators are typically used in critical care areas of the hospital, they may be used in other care areas as well”.

Uses: Used for both adults and pediatrics

 

Neonatal ventilators–  It is designed to deliver more precise volumes and pressures required for the infants.

Requirement: Neonatal intensive care ventilators provide ventilatory assistance to premature and critically ill infants suffering from respiratory failure. The infants who have low-compliance lungs, small tidal volumes, high airway resistance, and high respiratory rates need special support through neonatal ventilators.

Uses: Used for premature infants and children weighing up to 30 kgs

Non-Invasive Ventilators

In the case of non-invasive ventilation (NIV), devices with a nasal or face mask are used. The benefit of an NIV is its reduced need for endotracheal intubation and complications related to it. Non-invasive ventilators like CPAP or BiPAP are used at home by people with chronic respiratory difficulties like COPD. Its functionality is simple and easy to handle for people who don’t have medical training.

 

Ventilator vs Respirator vs Intubation

Ventilators and respirators are generally common terms that are often used interchangeably. Both are used to provide breathing support in required conditions. But in light of the growing pandemic, we’ve detailed the key differences below:

Ventilator: A machine that provides breathing support to critically ill patients, like the ones suffering from coronavirus. A ventilator can’t cure COVID-19 but supports the body as its immune system fights the virus.

Respirator: According to GovTech, a respirator is used to provide protection to people working/ living in areas with germs or infections. Vox states that respirators can be as simple as face masks, which help filter out particulates so people are breathing clean air. These are especially crucial for healthcare workers working in hazardous or contaminated zones during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Intubation: The insertion of a tube into the trachea (windpipe) is called Intubation. Endotracheal intubation permits air to pass freely through the lungs and facilitates the use of a mechanical ventilator.

Stay Strong During Lockdown Extension

As the fight against Coronavirus continues, the Government of India has extended the lockdown until May 31st. It’s clear that the need for social distancing is still paramount. We all know that the extension might not be easy, it’s taken a toll on our mental and physical health, and might continue to do so. If you’re wondering how to stay strong during self-quarantine, try some of our helpful quarantine-tips.

Stay focused while Working From Home

It’s not always easy for office goers to work from home(WFH) for days! So find yourself a comfortable place and make it your small office space. It’s helpful to create and maintain a routine- from waking up at a certain time every day to getting dressed in something more formal than pajamas. Know your tasks for the day and give yourself the much-needed breaks.

Work From Home

 

Be at mental peace during Quarantine

Good mental health promotes good physical health. Lacking mental peace can often lead to bigger problems. Try to sleep on time and wake up early to do yoga or meditate. Make a habit to pen down your thoughts daily, or simply try out any of the free mental health apps, like Headspace or Calm.

Stay Healthy

 

Safe ways to go out for important work

Go out during off-peak hours as it will be less crowded. Keep yourself covered and carry hand sanitizer. Maintain a minimum 6 ft distance from people, and ensure that you’re limiting physical contact. Make sure you’re sneezing/ coughing into your elbow to prevent any contamination, and use hand sanitizer before touching anything. Remember #StayHomeStaySafe is the best way possible to protect yourself.

Lockdown Extension

 

Stay physically active at home

Being confined to our home doesn’t mean laying lazily in bed. Get up and boost your quarantine-life. There are multiple free online workouts on YouTube that require little to no equipment, so you can work up a sweat anywhere! You could even make it a family event and get in some exercise together. Try finishing off pending housework, or even organize that closet you’ve been meaning to. Now’s the time!

Healthy Living

 

Best utilize this time

Use this time to get back the things that make you happy. Read books, finish the movies on your watchlist.  Try to work on your skills and develop good habits. This may be a good time to take up your forgotten hobbies, or learnings new skills. There are numerous online courses that offer free, or very affordable, lessons on various topics- from educational to fun! Most importantly, spend some time with your family and yourself. Also, beware of the basic knowledge of the coronavirus symptoms  

Stay Fit

 

If you need help during self-quarantine

If you need any help in case of a medical emergency during the lockdown, reach out to your nearest hospital. If you have any doubts of being infected, reach out at 1800-112-545. Remember, this problem is bigger than just you, so stay safe for the people around you.

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