Amid Coronavirus scare, doctors say 'not every mask you buy will protect you'

Updated: Mar 17, 2020, 14:06 IST | Arita Sarkar | Mumbai

As cheap knock-offs of surgical masks make way into the market, experts advise against using non-sterilised, non-approved masks

Some vendors have been selling masks made of cheap material that offer no protection according to experts
Some vendors have been selling masks made of cheap material that offer no protection according to experts

With the COVID-19 pandemic hitting India, there has been a sharp surge in the sale of masks across the city. The cheap knock-offs are being openly sold for '30 each.

These masks are made of nylon fabric and a vendor who was selling at a traffic signal in Bandra said that he picked up his lot from Behrampada. "They have started making these since yesterday. We are selling one for '30 and two for '50," he said.

These masks, however, are not sterilised or packaged and experts say that they are not effective either. Dr Sundeep Salvi, former director of Chest Research Foundation in Pune discouraged the idea of purchasing masks being sold loose. "These are not made out of absorbent material. The pores on the mask are too big to keep the droplets out and prevent the virus from spreading. Everyone doesn't need to wear a mask. People only need one if they have travelled to the Coronavirus infected countries, if they have symptoms or if they may have come into contact with a high-risk person," said Dr Salvi.

Dr Salvi emphasised on the need to focus on ways to curb the spread of Coronavirus since a vaccination will take at least a year to be available. "Coronavirus is very contagious. Apart from avoiding crowded places, people should work on strengthening their own immunity. One way to do it is to drink plenty of water. The chances of infection are higher with people with a dry nose or mouth," he said.

Another doctor from JJ Hospital said that masks need to be used as medical equipment and have to be certified by the Indian Standards Institute. "The N100 mask can prevent particles less than 0.3 microns, the N95 mask can stop particles less than 5 microns. The surgical mask is efficient too. Any other kind of masks are not suitable for use," said the doctor.

Rs 30
Price at which the cheap face masks are being sold

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