Protecting Yourself During COVID-19 | An Opinion Edition by Amazrock Team
Can the effects of Covid be mitigated by wearing a mask? For those who are interested, here are some quick answers with CDC Covid 19 Masks Guidelines.
Quick Facts on COVID-19 spread
COVID-19 is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which spreads between people, mainly when an infected person is in close contact with another person. The virus can spread from an infected person’s mouth or nose in small liquid particles when they cough, sneeze, speak, sing or breathe heavily.
Other people can catch COVID-19 when the virus gets into their mouth, nose, or eyes, which is more likely to happen when people are in direct or close contact (less than 1 meter apart) with an infected person.
Many expert studies and opinions suggest that the main way the virus spreads is by respiratory droplets among people who are in close contact with each other.
The Latest COVID 19 Update – Emergence of Omicron as Dominant Strain
[UPDATED 20-Dec-2022] – What to know about the COVID of Omicron and BQs? Should we be concerned as new strains emerge with more countries opening up and relaxing the restriction rules? Because information about COVID-19 changes rapidly, we encourage you to visit the websites of the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and your state and local government for the latest information.
After Omicron appeared in the United States at the end of 2021, COVID-19 moved quickly and spread like wildfire. Multiple Omicron subvariants have arisen since then, with BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 becoming the predominant strains in the United States in mid-November 2022. It surpasses BA.5, which was believed to be a relatively mild strain. The BQ strains are believed to be better than BA.5 at evading vaccination or past infection-induced immunity.
As people congregated for the holidays in December, the COVID infection cases increased once again. This is a result of fewer individuals wearing masks and taking other preventative precautions. Experts are still attempting to figure out BQ.1 and BQ.1.1, while also keeping an eye on more than 300 descendants of Omicron.
In November 2021, Botswana and South Africa first reported Omicron infections, although later reports revealed earlier cases in the Netherlands. The CDC confirmed the first U.S. case on December 1 in a Californian who returned from South Africa in November.
Omicron dominated the U.S. by late December. This COVID-Omicron subtype spread faster than ever as the world embraced a new year with more opening up and relaxing of previous COVID restriction rules. The World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have both identified this as a “variant of concern.”
Early South African reports showed most cases to be mild. The symptoms for this variant appear to be different from previous COVID virus strains. Lauren Ferrante, MD, a Yale Medicine pulmonologist, says South African patients—many of whom were young—had acute lethargy but no loss of taste or smell.
However, it is important to mention that several people infected with Omicron became very ill and ultimately passed away in the hospital. As a result, professionals were concerned that a heavy caseload in one area could strain hospital resources. Consequently, this makes it harder for medical centers to handle severe situations.
Do current vaccines and treatments protect against severe disease from Omicron
In contrast to the delta variant and the original COVID-19 virus, the omicron (B.1.1.529) strain spreads with relative ease. On the other hand, omicron seems to result in milder illness.
It is important to note that people who are fully vaccinated can get breakthrough infections and spread the virus to others. But the COVID-19 vaccines are effective at preventing severe illness.
This variant also reduces the effectiveness of some monoclonal antibody treatments. Omicron has a few major offshoots (sublineages), including BA.5 and BA.2.12.1. BA.5 made up about 88% of COVID-19 infections that had genetic sequencing in the U.S. in August 2022, according to the CDC.
In April, the CDC downgraded the delta variant from a variant of concern to a variant being monitored. This means that the delta variant is not seen as a significant risk to public health in the United States.
Our Recommendation for High Exposure Risk (In Clinical Setting or Environment With Known or High Probability of COVID-19 Exposure)
Social Distancing & Wearing Face Mask Helps Prevent Exposure
Do masks protect against Covid? What are the CDC Covid 19 Masks Guidelines?
During a pandemic, it would be smart to keep your distance from people in public places where it makes sense to do so. A face mask would also act as a barrier to reduce and slow down our exposure to any respiratory droplets that might be in the air.
How to Know When to Use a Mask or Respirator
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that keeping up-to-date on vaccines and wearing masks can help prevent serious illnesses and lessen the chance that the health care system will be overworked. Wear a mask that fits you well, keeps you safe, and feels good.
Consider below table on when to use a mask or respirator | CDC Covid 19 Masks Guidelines
At All COVID-19 Community Levels
Medium or High
Wear a Medical-Grade Face Mask
To the rhetoric question “Do masks protect against COVID?”, it is important to get the best available protection. As such, consider ONLY such face masks that are manufactured according to the approved standards
- USA FDA approved – ASTM F2100-19 Level-3 (or commonly known as Surgical Masks; or N95 Respirators)
- FDA-regulated face masks (including cloth face coverings), surgical masks, and respirators (filtering facepiece respirators, such as N95 respirators) intended for medical purposes to assist in preventing the spread of infectious materials during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Europe approved – EN14683 Type II & IIR
- These face masks provide
- BFE>98, Medical-Grade Differential Pressure, Fluid Splash Resistance (EN14683 Type IIR and ASTM F2100 Recommended)
- Additional Particle Filtration + Flammability Resistance (ASTM F2100 Recommended)
Should you use Face masks
Face mask: A mask, with or without a face shield, that covers the user’s nose and mouth and may or may not meet fluid barrier or filtration efficiency levels. You should note that non-medical face masks are not considered medical devices. Face masks may be used by the general public and health care personnel as source control in accordance with CDC Covid 19 Masks guidelines and recommendations.
What about Surgical masks
Surgical mask: A mask that covers the user’s nose and mouth and provides a physical barrier to fluids and particulate materials. Surgical masks intended for medical purposes are considered medical devices. The mask meets certain fluid barrier protection standards and Class I or Class II flammability tests. Surgical masks are also tested for biocompatibility and are considered personal protective equipment (PPE). They may be effective at preventing splashes and large-particle droplets. However, surgical masks may not offer total protection against pathogens and other contaminants. This is due to the loose fit between your face and the mask’s surface. Surgical masks are not respiratory protective devices such as respirators.
Are the Best Protection offered by Respirators
Respirators: It is known as filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs), including N95s and surgical N95s, filter at least 95 percent of airborne particles. They are personal protective equipment (PPE) that fits the face tightly. These respirators provide certain filtration efficiency levels to help reduce wearer exposure to pathogenic airborne particles in a healthcare setting. They provide a higher level of protection against viruses and bacteria when properly fit-tested.
Our Recommendation for Lower Exposure Risk (In Public Spaces or Low Probability COVID-19 Exposure)
Where possible, do adopt a properly fit-face mask as your companion at your outings or workplace. You can consider the following :
- Cloth Face Masks (3-layers Cotton/Silk With High Thread Count) – widely believed to offer a level of protection up to 80-90% Fluid Resistance and BFE filtration close to medical-grade EN14683 Type I & II face mask
- Single-use face mask (non-medical grade)
* Be socially responsible for others and yourself. Let us help protect ample supplies for the front-line Health Workers !
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