The rampant Coronavirus epidemic that is spreading from the heart of China to the rest of the world rightly deserves the utmost attention, both in terms of individual protection and in reducing as much as possible any possibility of transmission and contagion.
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that attack the respiratory tract: they can cause mild to moderate diseases, from a common cold to more significant respiratory syndromes such as MERS and SARS. They are widespread in many species of animals but, in rare cases, they can evolve and infect humans. The World Health Organization has called this new strain 2019-nCoV which being unknown and of remarkable transmissibility represents a risk that should not be underestimated.
The most important thing to do in these cases is always and only one: prevention. By prevention is meant the limitation of the risk of infection between man and man, to be obtained by applying a few but simple rules: washing hands often (especially after coughing / sneezing, after assisting a patient, before and after preparing food, after having gone to the bathroom and after touching animals), also using alcohol-based gels and, if the person was infected, more than anything else, protect anyone who can come into contact with us. (source, Istituto Superiore di Sanità)
Do I have to wear a protective mask to protect myself from the virus crown? Which mask should I use to protect the coronavirus?
How the Organization defines it World Healthand the Istituto Superiore di Sanità the use of FFP protective masks and related Personal Protective Equipment, such as gloves and protective glasses, is mandatory only for infected people and for those who are in charge of dealing with these individuals (mainly therefore Healthcare Professionals). While Health-care Professionals must use PPE to protect themselves from the infected they are assisting, the latter must instead use masks to protect others: the main danger of the virus is represented by the transmission by air and therefore prevent the dispersion of sneezing and breath significantly contributes to limiting its diffusion.
Which mask should I use to protect myself from the coronavirus?
Always the document drawn up by the World Health Organization defines that for the protection from contaminated people, therefore for Healthcare Professionals or anyone in contact with the infected, a mask certified at least as FFP2, according to EN 149 is sufficient. For Healthcare Professionals, the presence or absence of the exhalation valve is indifferent: the latter favors the expulsion of carbon dioxide and the heat generated inside, ensuring better comfort and less breathing resistance, but does not affect the guaranteed level of protection. It is important, however, that infected people use at least FFP2 certified masks but WITHOUT the exhalation valve, as the latter – allowing the user to breathe out – would make the mask’s protective capacity against third parties vain.
For all those who are not infected or do not have safe contact with people affected by the virus, the Istituto Superiore di Sanità does not require the use of masks, but only compliance with the correct personal hygiene procedures in the place where you live or work.
Prevention, education and civic sense are the most important tools to help reduce the risk of a pandemic and allow faster resolution of this emergency.