Are Surgical Masks the New Normal during COVID-19? How society will continue to rely on face coverings when social distancing is not an option during the pandemic.
Physical distancing has been a talking point since the initial few weeks of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. However, it is not always possible to follow the practice.
From buying essential items at the grocery store to visiting the doctor’s office for non-avoidable treatments, you often have to leave the comfort of your home and interact with others.
That is where wearing face coverings can help you reduce the transmission of the virus.
This especially holds for a surgical mask, a more affordable and convenient alternative to reusable cloth masks. These masks have become ubiquitous to the point where you are more likely to see people wearing them in public than walking without these face coverings.
This makes you stop and think: What purpose do these masks even serve? What is the reason behind their popularity? In addition, perhaps most importantly, are surgical masks our new normal?
To help you get the answers to these questions, here is a lowdown on this essential protective equipment in the light of COVID-19.
Purpose: A Surgical Mask Can Help Reduce the Spread of COVID-19
The novel coronavirus is mainly spread through the respiratory droplets of an infected person. This applies to those patients who show medium or severe symptoms of the disease, such as fever, cough, and trouble breathing. However, it also holds true for asymptomatic cases or those who show no signs of the disease despite catching the virus.
When someone infected with COVID-19 talks, sneezes, coughs or breathes, those near them can be infected through the air’s respiratory discharge. This is why maintaining a distance of at least 2 meters from others is essential in public places.
However, no matter how hard you try, physical distancing is not always possible. As mentioned above, this is especially true for basic settings such as grocery stores, pharmacies, and healthcare facilities. In these places, it is easy to bump into other patrons or interact with the employees. Either way, you can put your own and others’ safety at risk by walking into public spaces. This risk also applies in situations where you have to work in an open office with other employees.
That is where a surgical mask becomes so effective. By absorbing the wearer’s respiratory droplets, this protective equipment can reduce the risk of discharging them into the air. As a result, it protects any inadvertent transmission of COVID-19, especially through the virus’s asymptomatic carriers.
This is why these masks have turned out to become a popular accessory in the age of the novel coronavirus. If every member of the community wears these face coverings and combines their efficacy with social distancing and hand hygiene, it can help curb the spread of COVID-19.
Popularity: It Has Become a Prominent Symbol in the Fight against the Pandemic
From healthcare workers to government officials, experts worldwide have urged people to wear masks in public settings. This also holds for Canada, where the country’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam has advised the public to wear masks where physical distancing is impossible.
With a collective effort from globally established entities and governments, wearing a mask has become a symbol of fighting against COVID-19. Since it only requires you to put a piece of clothing over your face, the measure doesn’t ask much out of you. At the same time, it actively helps you do your part in reducing the pandemic’s spread.
As one of the most popular face coverings, a surgical mask proves itself as the perfect candidate to be a symbol of this practice. That is why mask-wearing is generally associated with this distinctly shaped, multi-layer protective equipment.
Surgical masks aren’t just good for symbolism and stock photography. They also live up to the performance expectations and provide sufficient protection against COVID-19 spread by absorbing the wearer’s respiratory droplets. They also do so on a budget, which further adds to their popularity and efficacy.
To add more advantages to the table, these masks also deliver the required protection without compromising comfort. As outlined by many health experts and independent sources, wearing masks doesn’t affect the wearer’s breathing in any shape or form.
As a result, wearing these lightweight masks ensures that you are doing what is expected and required of you without putting your comfort or safety at risk.
Adaptability: Surgical Masks Are Here to Stay for the Long Haul
With no established treatments in sight and candidate vaccines still in development, the COVID-19 outbreak is here to stay.
According to experts, it might take at least a few months before an initial vaccine is ready for distribution. Even then, it would be a while until it reaches every single person on the planet. This means that COVID-19 is not just going to be a part of our life for a while, but it will also continue to integrate associated practices into our everyday routine.
In light of this information, it is safe to assume that a surgical mask is one of the most prominent parts of our new normal. No matter if you are making a quick run to the market or taking a slow walk in the park, you can easily see others sporting their masks like a regular accessory.
Fortunately, it is not a bad practice to notice this phenomenon on your essential trips. On the contrary, it is a sign that people care about reducing the damage this pandemic can cause to their community. It is also an indication for you to follow the same practice, and make sure that you are masking up whenever you cannot distance yourself or your family from others.
Since these masks are available through various retailers at affordable prices, it is not difficult for anyone to access them. Their single-use nature also helps you avoid washing or cleaning duties. This is why they have already become a seamless section of our everyday activities. If the current circumstances are any indication, the practice to wear these masks might become a permanent solution even in a post-COVID-19 era.
If you follow science and expert advice in the light of the latest information, looking into these masks is the way to go.