NEW DELHI, April 4: In view of rapid escalation in the number of coronavirus cases and fatalities, the government on Saturday (April 4, 2020) issued an advisory asking people to wear “homemade face covers” particularly when they step out of their houses in order to curb the further spread of COVID-19.
In its ”Advisory on the use of Homemade Protective Cover for Face and Mouth”, the government said the use of such masks will help in protecting the community at large and that certain countries have claimed benefits of homemade face masks for the general public.
The advisory was issued shortly after the Health Ministry figures showed that the number of COVID-19 cases in the country rose to 2,902 while the death toll increased to 68 on Saturday.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) had earlier recommended the use of face masks for controlling the spread of the deadly pandemic. The WHO said that masks should be worn by anyone with symptoms such as cough or fever, or anyone caring for a confirmed or suspected COVID-19 case, but does not advise healthy people to wear them in everyday situations.
In the United States, which is the most hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, President Donald Trump has also recommended to all citizens the voluntary use of non-medical masks as an additional public health measure to fight the deadly coronavirus while keeping medical-grade masks available for health workers.
The US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended that Americans wear basic cloth or fabric masks that can be either purchased online or simply made at home.
Meanwhile, some researchers have claimed that the use of masks could help limit the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The researches arrived at this conclusion after studying the effect of surgical masks on the transmission of other corona and flu viruses.
In the study, the use of surgical masks by sufferers significantly reduced the number of flu viruses detectable in droplets released through breathing and coughing.
It also reduced the number of seasonal coronaviruses – among the causes of common colds – detectable in the air as suspended microdroplets, or aerosols. The study did not look at the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2.
The research, published in the journal Nature Medicine, coincided with the pandemic of COVID-19 respiratory disease, which has infected more than a million people worldwide and killed more than 53,000.
Benjamin Cowling, the professor who led the study at the World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre for infectious disease epidemiology in Hong Kong, said its findings could be extrapolated to simpler cotton masks.
Until now, there has been little robust scientific evidence on the effectiveness of face masks in slowing transmission of respiratory diseases.
Rupert Beale, a specialist in infection biology at London`s Francis Crick Institute, said, “Mask wearing does not completely prevent transmission and cannot be relied on as a sole measure, but combined with other social distancing measures, should form part of the `exit strategy` from lockdown”. (Agencies)