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Face masks - silly question?

(148 Posts)
42andcounting Thu 16-Apr-20 09:40:19

Ok, first off I'll state I'm not talking about taking PPE away from front line workers, I'm talking about home made (sewn) masks. Also I know that they are useless unless used correctly, removed safely, replaced regularly, etc.

Advice seems to be conflicting across the world as to whether they are any use, and in the UK the prevailing wisdom seems to be that they are not recommended because they only stop the wearer from transmitting infection, but not from contracting it (ie my mask protects you from me, not me from you).

My question is, given that we know many people are asymptomatic, why aren't we just wearing masks anyway, as they can't worsen the situation, and may improve it slightly?

(Genuine question)

GeorgieTheGorgeousGoat Thu 16-Apr-20 09:43:32

Because hey don’t stop you giving it.
Because it makes people complacent.
Because it increases the amount of face touching.
Because you need to clean and remove them properly otherwise you undo the whole thing.
Because it’s been explained every time the face masks are discussed.

Rainyrain Thu 16-Apr-20 09:45:25

I think we will be soon...
It seems sensible to me, even if they only reduce the spread a tiny tiny bit it feels worth doing.
I really believe we have been told not to wear them because of the risk of taking away much needed resources from frontline workers.

caradelvigna Thu 16-Apr-20 10:11:24

My friend who is a surgeon called me in tears asking me to wear a home made mask. She said it's better than nothing. It's all a bit unknown at the moment as so much conflicting advice

42andcounting Thu 16-Apr-20 10:14:25

Because hey don’t stop you giving it.
But there is some information out there saying that a four layer mask, including two layers of non woven material in the middle, and with a decent face seal, will reduce the amount of droplets that are spread. Is this incorrect? I'd be interested to hear from anyone who knows if this is medically sound or not.

Because it makes people complacent.
Because it increases the amount of face touching.
Surely both of these points are just about public information. Six months ago you would not have believed the majority of people would be observing a lockdown, yet here we are. We can learn and adapt.

Because you need to clean and remove them properly otherwise you undo the whole thing.
Again, public education. (That's why I included this and the point about touching the masks in my OP.)

GeorgieTheGorgeousGoat Thu 16-Apr-20 10:17:39

So just wear one? I don’t understand your ‘genuine question’ (code for ‘argument’). No one is stopping you. Are you saying you want them to be compulsory?

Happyspud Thu 16-Apr-20 10:20:48

I lived in Asia a long time. They use them every winter and hay fever season religiously. I also think everyone should have one on. It makes sense to me.

Northernsoullover Thu 16-Apr-20 10:22:13

I wear one. Based on my sample size of one it absolutely DOES stop me touching my face.
I have made mine from a vacuum cleaner bag (fabric HEPA filter) I managed to make 8 from one bag. I only wear it shopping once a week.
I also think we will be wearing them as soon as lockdown is partially lifted.
There is a great video on YouTube from Asian Boss who is interviewing a Korean doctor.
They definitely reduce transmission. Its not going to stop teeny particles but even talking increases the amount you aspirate. How many times have you heard 'say it don't spray it'?

AuntieStella Thu 16-Apr-20 10:25:19

I'm surprised it leads to more face touching - I thought it would be a jolly useful prop not to do it when fingers stray to lower face.

I suspect we will see people doing this more over the next couple of years (pre-vaccine) and perhaps generally in the long term in crowded places in flu season. As you say, it's benefit it more to reduce the amount you an infected/incubating person is spraying out (not protecting the wearer) but I'd say that was all to the good as well.

I've noticed one (US based) sports company making matching masks for its cycling/running kit. I was wondering if we'll see more of that here

Wonderbag Thu 16-Apr-20 10:25:24

www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/apr/04/why-wear-a-mask-may-be-our-best-weapon-to-stop-coronavirus?CMP=fb_gu&utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Facebook#Echobox=1585992709

This article makes a lot of sense and claims that even if everyone wore masks made out of old T-shirts it’d go a long way towards stopping the spread of the virus.
Is it France where the police are giving them out and insisting people wear them?
I’m looking forward to them being more encouraged here

parietal Thu 16-Apr-20 10:28:27

I've made washable fabric masks for everyone in my family & we wear them when outside or in a shop.

they may not make much difference to whether we catch it, but they certainly stop us coughing & breathing on other people & potentially infecting others.

Think about when an ordinary surgeon wears a mask in an ordinary surgery (before coronavirus). that is mostly to protect the patient, not to protect the surgeon. Same principle here.

missyoumuch Thu 16-Apr-20 10:28:39

For those who are in doubt - there is no version of the end of lockdown that doesn't involve face masks. The UK government is considering it now, a few others in Europe and several US states have already said it will be mandatory.

Asian countries that are still open are doing so through the use of face masks and widespread temperature checking. If you want to enter any building or public space you must submit to a forehead scan.

Start to get your heads around this. Because the alternative is staying at home until there is a vaccine which is 12-18 months away.

Reallybadidea Thu 16-Apr-20 10:29:22

My understanding is that there's no clear evidence, but they are more likely to prevent infected people passing it on to others than prevent incoming virus particles iyswim.

I think if we want absolute evidence of whether they're going to work or not, we're going to be waiting a long time. In the meantime they should be adopted as part of social distancing and with lots of publicity about how to wear and remove them safely. If it turns out they were not much use and as long as they don't replace any other measures or reduce the number available to healthcare workers, I think we should give it a try.

Jellybean27 Thu 16-Apr-20 10:32:53

Bloody hell @GeorgieTheGorgeousGoat Need a hand out of OPs throat? 🙄

hopethismakesyousmile Thu 16-Apr-20 10:34:31

The advice from leading experts in Asia who dealt with SARS, MERS etc is that facemasks are extremely helpful in reducing spread - not preventing but reducing. I think I would go with that advice, probably, as it is best we have available and other governments are also now providing similar advice.

Gloves in supermarkets - similar - if you wear them in and take them off afterwards you are preventing you passing it on and preventing you catching it from anything you touch while in there. So it is not total prevention, but reducing spread. (I also wipe down my shopping for the same reason)

Branster Thu 16-Apr-20 10:41:15

I agree with OP. If they were compulsory it would reduce the spread. But everybody, including children, would have to wear them when outside of the house. And a little bit is better than nothing in terms of reducing spread.
People just need to learn how to use them properly and take responsibility, it’s not rocket science.
Other countries have encouraged or implemented compulsory face covering in some or all public spaces.
I found it impossible to buy proper hand sanitiser or disposable face masks or even hand wash liquid since well before the lockdown. I’ve got alternatives but it’s just ridiculous that such items are not available to buy. Less the face masks because it’s not customary in the UK yet. Some items on Amazon are either ridiculously overpriced or of questionable quality.
My family lives in a different country. Wearing a mask is not habitual as it is in Japan. But somehow you can buy any product you need as a private individual. Certain areas do have compulsory face covering rules now but most people are covering their faces voluntarily anyway everywhere else. There hasn’t been any panic buying either. I don’t know if it is because of cultural difference, different social behaviour, different government messages or what.

I think if masks were more readily available in the UK, more people would wear them. Around here between 1/3 - 1/2 people I see are wearing a mask but my experience is very limited in terms of actual geographical spread and exposure to the outside world.

Supermarkets seem to be the hubs with highest population movement at present. Masks should be compulsory there for both customers and staff. But the supermarkets themselves need to implement this rule and not wait for the government to suggest it. However, if supermarkets can’t get enough masks for their own staff, they can’t expect customers to wear masks.

hopethismakesyousmile Thu 16-Apr-20 10:43:15

I quite like the idea of make your own - if i could - i can't sew to save my life - but much better to wear and wash rather than keep using disposables?

lljkk Thu 16-Apr-20 11:14:21

I'm scared masks will become mandatory.
I cycle, row and run a lot and you can't breathe hard wearing a tight mask. So active travel or any exercise outdoors effectively would be banned if masks are made compulsory.

Can't see how to get small children, babies, people with significant LDs or dementia to wear masks.

My dad lives in USA so wears a mask when he walks the dirty smelly alleys, the only place he's allowed to walk near home in spite of fact he lives with a beauty spot pathway 3m outside his front door (access to there is banned). The mask impedes his breathing so he pulls it down when no one around. He says he sees other people every day also walking the alleys. Someone convince me that the mask protects him.

missyoumuch Thu 16-Apr-20 12:24:03

Someone convince me that the mask protects him.

It protects others from him if he is infected. It’s not supposed to protect the wearer from the virus.

pocketem Thu 16-Apr-20 12:29:25

Germany, France, Denmark, Luxemburg, the United States and many of the Asian countries that have been successful in tackling covid have either recommended the public wear masks or are considering such a recommendation once their lockdowns are lifted

It's only our arrogant Oxbridge scientific advisers who claim that WHO advice is only for poor countries, that think they know better than everyone else. Just an imperialistic attitude

42andcounting Thu 16-Apr-20 13:13:16

*Jellybean27
Bloody hell @GeorgieTheGorgeousGoat Need a hand out of OPs throat? 🙄*

Thanks for the moral support, appreciated smile

I'm clearly living in a different world to Georgie, because round these parts the phrase "genuine question" actually does mean "this is a genuine question that I've been thinking about, and I'm wondering if anyone with relevant knowledge might be able to enlighten me". Maybe I'm just too old for the internet and don't know the secret codes grin

I'm finding the different viewpoints interesting though, thank you to everyone who replied.

BamboozledandBefuddled Thu 16-Apr-20 13:23:19

If the government recommend people wear them, that's fair enough. If they make wearing them mandatory, then I'll make one that's so loose fitting it'll be pointless. I'm not going to follow a law that will negatively impact both my physical and mental health. I've seen other people voicing the same concerns and I'd suggest they do the same.

hopethismakesyousmile Thu 16-Apr-20 13:43:27

The other thing is that when people say it protects others if you have the virus, it is worth remembering (for the people who don't like masks...) that many people have the virus without realising. It isn't fully understood yet why some people have no symptoms, others mild, others severe, others lung failure - so you may have no symptoms but could pass it on to someone who would get severe symptoms.

Also, this isn't forever.

DameFanny Thu 16-Apr-20 15:40:00

I've made masks for immediate family, assuming that the next stage will be mandatory masks outside. I wore one shopping yesterday - there were 3 others masked in the supermarket. I felt frankly stupid putting it on - but I forced myself because I do think we need to move to masking to reduce transmission, and I'm a terrible face-toucher.

It was ok. I put metal in the bridge so I could pinch it down and not have my glasses steam up, and it also meant I was a lot less sniffy than last week (hayfever) so didn't scare anyone else by sneezing.

I guess it's part of the new normal we're headed into. And if it helps to pretend you're Aladdin's Jasmine - or the Lone Ranger - to wear one, then do that grin

happypotamus Thu 16-Apr-20 16:22:43

I have to wear a mask for 13hrs a day at work. I absolutely touch my face more often because it is so irritating to wear.
I asked the question before but don't think it was answered: in countries where it is normal to wear masks, do they make them in child sizes? We mostly have the ones with the ear loops at work and, either my face is too small or my ears are in the wrong place, so they are far too loose and probably no protection at all. It definitely wouldn't fit a child. I also asked what happens about people with sensory difficulties or learning disabilities who would not tolerate a mask.

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