NEW DELHI: With Covid-19 cases also being seen among asymptomatic people, masking up has become all the more crucial. Masks act as an effective tool in preventing respiratory droplets from spreading infection without the person’s knowledge. If at least 60% of the population wore masks that are just 60% effective in blocking viral transmission — like homemade cloth masks —the outbreak could be contained, says US-based surgeon Atul Gawande.

The more effective the mask, the greater the chances of controlling the disease’s spread.
Surgical masks

Made of melt-blown polypropylene fibre fabric, surgical masks provides more effective filtration because of an electrostatic charge applied to them using a device called the corona charger (the device, however, wasn’t named for the disease and has been around for many years). This not only makes the masks more breathable but also more effective at blocking particles —surgical masks are three times better than homemade masks at preventing viral transmission.
N95 masks

N95 masks are not only capable of protecting others from infection but can also protect the wearer. The tight-fitting masks ensure the wearer only breathes
air coming through the masks’ filters. N95s use high electrostatic charges in the filtration material to block 95% of particles as small as 0.3 microns. But because of their limited supply, these high-grade masks are thus reserved for medical professionals only.
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Illustrations: Sajeev Kumarapuram | Source: New Yorker, media reports

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