Due to the rise of cases of people who have tested positive for Covid-19 in Kenya, the Health Cabinet secretary issued a new directive that will help Kenyans avert the spread of Covid-19. He declared that Kenyans have to ensure that they wear face masks and it is mandatory for everyone.
Public service vehicles, tuk tuks and boda boda drivers should ensure that they have masks on and also their passengers. Following this directive, the government has identified companies that will help in producing this masks locally and have them distributed all over the country. Those who will not be able to get this free masks, will have to buy their own within the given time frame. The masks are going to be available at a very affordable price.
The best measure to protect ourselves is to avoid being exposed to the virus by keeping social distance, washing our hands, avoid touching your face and avoid unnecessary movements. But since it is a directive measure from the government, we have to obey to be on the right side of the law.
Do we know what kind of mask we should buy? There are different types of masks in the market and we should have information on which one is the best. The virus that causes COVID-19 is transmitted by inhalation of both droplets and aerosols near the source.
Disclaimer: This post does not advocate for perpetual self-medication or treatment. Neither does it support dependency on any type of mask. It is an informative article that seeks to educate on preventive measures and the types of mask available. If symptoms persist, seek medical advice.
I have already seen people using “homemade kitenge masks” which look really nice but the downside is that they will not protect you from the virus. From the mask protection efficiency below, the cloth mask has a 50% chance of protecting you from bacteria, pollen and dust. It has zero percent (0%) protection and filter efficiency when it comes to virus spread. It does not have any protection when it comes to the spread of Covid-19 but it can help in preventing you from touching your nose and mouth.
The surgical mask which is mostly used in hospitals has 80% protection efficiency against bacterial, dust and pollen infections. It however has a 95% protection efficiency when it comes to virus infections. If worn properly, the surgical mask is meant to help block large-particle droplets, splashes, sprays, or splatter that may contain germs (viruses and bacteria), from reaching your mouth and nose. Surgical masks have some utility as source control which means that the wearer limits virus disposal to another person.
The most ideal mask to use is the N95 respirator. The N95 designation means that when the mask is subjected to tests, the mask blocks at least 95 percent of very small test particles. It is designed to have very close facial fit and efficient filtration of airborne particles. Though it is the most efficient, it does completely eliminate the risk of infection. The N95 is not recommended for children or people with facial hair (Beard gang mngoje no shave November lol).
I have worn the N95 mask and from my experience it is really well fitting. This also means that I had difficulty in breathing after like five minutes. I felt like I was breathing in hot recycled air. From what I have read, the N95 respirator can make it more difficult for the wearer to breathe. So, people with chronic respiratory, cardiac, or other medical conditions that make breathing difficult should check with their health care provider before using the N95 respirator.
All the above masks are recommended for a single use. You can not wear one mask for a whole week because that beats its purpose. The mask you choose must cover both the nose and mouth to keep you from breathing in mold and dust. Always hold the mask from the outer part when putting it on and discard after use. Wash your hands after disposing the used mask. Do not recycle or disinfect a used mask.
As we are going through challenging stage in the country and the world at large, I would like to urge you to follow the government directives so as to stay safe. Stay at home if you have no business being on the move, wash your hands, practice social distancing, sanitize, clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces. Have a safe Friday.