These were the words of Dr. Scott Segal, chair of anaesthesiology at Wake Forest Baptist Health, a leading US medical education and research, when discussing the effectiveness of cloth masks in the fight against the global pandemic we are currently facing. Are cloths masks keeping you safe? Let's dive in to find out.
As we enter into 2021 and the total reported cases of Covid-19 in the U.S climb to over 13.6 million it is painfully clear that community transmissions are far from under control. To avoid continual lockdowns, but also to galvanise a slowing economy people need to feel safe in the fact that not only themselves but their loved ones are at low risk of catching and spreading Covid-19. Testing still remains well below what is required, and vaccines like Pfizer’s still have a long way to go before the public at large will receive the adequate doses required and our lives can go back to how they were pre-pandemic. However, if better mask were widely available now, we could achieve peace of mind and confidence moving forward. We need access to superior masks with levels of protection seen in N95 and high-filtration surgical masks used by health workers, rather than the cloth ones worn by the majority of the population at the moment. High filtration masks must be available for the general public if we are to successfully negotiate the delicate balance of keeping our most vulnerable safe, whilst reviving our economy.
While effective monitoring of contact tracing and testing remain crucial, equipping people with high-filtration masks in combination with social distancing practice and frequent hand washing, could be the most achievable and realistic opportunity we have for slowing Covid-19’s spread and restoring the safety and confidence needed to enable society to be fully functioning once again.