How helpful are face masks in preventing the spread of COVID-19?
Surgeon general Jerome M. Adams said on Feb. 29 face masks are not effective in preventing the general public from catching the coronavirus. “If health care communities at risk!” he said in a tweet. Loose-fitting surgical masks are mostly intended to protect the outside world from the wearer’s respiratory emissions, but don’t necessarily provide protection for the wearer. Healthy people need not wear a mask unless they are taking care of a person who already has or is suspected to have a 2019-nCoV infection.
In addition, the World Health Organization (WHO) said face masks are only effective when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning. Before putting on a mask, one must first clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water, making sure to cover the nose and mouth completely with no gaps. Users should avoid touching the mask while in use. Face masks are to be replaced as soon as they are damp and should not be reused. People should remove it from behind without touching the front, discard and clean hands. Again, face masks do not prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
How helpful is hand sanitizer in preventing the spread of COVID-19?
It depends. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the public to use hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol, although washing hands with soap and water for 20 seconds is preferable. Some “alcohol-free” products which use benzalkonium chloride as their active agent instead don’t work as well and may merely reduce the growth of germs rather than killing them. Though these products are better than nothing, consumers should spend their money on more effective sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol.
These hand sanitizers can be very effective, but they are not as successful as handwashing when hands are visibly dirty or greasy. When people must use hand sanitizers, however, they should make sure to apply it correctly in order to utilize the full effects of the product. The CDC recommends to apply the product to the palm of one hand and rub it all over the surfaces of both hands until dry. Although washing hands with soap and water is preferable, people can also use hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol to clean their hands.
How effective is cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces in preventing the spread of COVID-19?
The CDC said people should both clean and disinfect surfaces to limit the survival of the virus. “Cleaning refers to the removal of germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces,” it said. “Cleaning removes germs but does not kill them, lowering their numbers and the risk of spreading infection.” Disinfecting, however, refers to “using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces.” It doesn’t necessarily remove the germs, but lowers the risk of spreading coronavirus by killing them after cleaning.
Coronavirus transmissions occur through respiratory droplets and can stay alive on hard surfaces such as plastic and stainless steel for up to 72 hours and on cardboard for up to 24 hours, according to National Public Radio. People should clean and disinfect areas such as tables, chairs, doorknobs, light switches, toilets and others while wearing gloves and discarding them when finished. If the surfaces are dirty, they should be cleaned with soap and water or detergent before disinfecting. Then, they should be disinfected with diluted household bleach solutions, alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol or EPA-registered household disinfectants. These measures will remove and kill bacteria. Therefore, people should both clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
How effective is social distancing in preventing the spread of COVID-19?
According to University of California San Francisco epidemiologist Jeff Martin, social distancing is currently the most important factor we can control in the COVID-19 outbreak. The phrase “social distancing” refers to avoiding close contact with other individuals to minimize the chance of catching and passing on viruses. Restaurants, schools, businesses and other places with large gatherings have shut down to encourage this. People can avoid events with crowds and those who are sick — the WHO recommends people to maintain at least three feet of distance between themselves and anyone coughing or sneezing. The droplets from a COVID-19 recipient’s nose or mouth may contain the virus and if someone is too close, they can inhale it. Because of this, people should socially distance themselves from sick people and large gatherings.
Do you know any other prevention methods? Let us know in the comments below.