With the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, masks have become such an essential part of our attire that we don’t even dare to step out of our houses without wearing it like a protective cover over our noses and mouth. As clothes and shoes / slippers have remain the basic necessities of life, the mask has also become an integral savior of our existence. As the mask is used to protect ourselves from transmitting the invisible coronavirus in our surroundings, it has literally marked itself as a medical superhero of a person in the pandemic stricken world. This type of face covering, which is placed securely over the lower part of the face with the help of the cords attached to it, can save a person from the droplets that falls after the occurrence of disastrous sneezes coughs or from a runny nose of others. When every person is wearing a mask, it can prevent the transmission of respiratory particles in the air and thereby reduce the chances of getting infected by the coronavirus to a large extent.
Meanwhile, the Government of every country in the world has strictly declared that wearing a mask in public places, regular sanitization of hands and maintaining social distancing is the only feasible way to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Although it is highly truthful that social distancing is necessary but our duties, the thoughts about the well-being of our dear ones and the love we have for them makes us skip this step unless absolutely necessary. However, the process of sanitizing the hands regularly during a day is to be followed rigorously to keep ourselves clean, healthy and safe from infections.
The necessity of wearing a mask has reached such a high status today that you are held in trouble under the law if your face is devoid of it. The owner of a maskless face in public will be made to pay a heavy fine by the police or he / she will be whisked away to the police station and forced to live a life behind bars for a few days. Moreover, videos of a lot of people facing lashings from the police in the roads due to the absence of mask in the face have become viral on social media from the latter half of 2020. Although it can seem amusing when seen from electronic devices, the need for wearing a mask properly for longer hours is very important for protection of our health. With the mask becoming a mandatory face covering of the global society, the urge for converting it into a stylish accessory has soon followed and it is not uncommon to see people in the streets today mixing and matching their outfits, shoes and accessories with the medical safety tool
TYPES OF MASKS COMMON IN INDIA
Look anywhere in a street around you and a vista of a maximum number of people covering half of their faces in fabrics of bright colours would open up before you. The best thing about a fabric mask is that it can be made by sewing three or four different pieces of cloth together at home without having to spend extra bucks in the market for it. However, fabric masks of vivid designs and colours can be seen to be selling like hot cakes every day from roadside vendors to the high end retail outlets. Moreover, fabric masks are also given as an accompaniment with an outfit by various companies. Therefore, people wearing fabric masks exactly similar to their outfits are also not an uncommon scene to be seen today. According to a research publication in the Indian Journal of Medical Research, the effectiveness of cloth mask depends on various factors such as fabric material, number of layers and the fit of the mask. It also stated that the filtration efficacy of multilayered cloth masks is 50-70 per cent for respiratory aerosol particles. As per the researchers, a multilayered cloth mask with at least three layers and a high thread count is good to wear. They recommended fabric masks made of cotton blend or other hybrid materials, such as cotton silk or cotton chiffon due to their higher filtration capacity than pure cotton.
Although N95 masks are expensive, people have not hesitated themselves from buying it as a lot of people can be seen wearing it in public places. According to the research publication in the Indian Journal of Medical Research, N95 masks are relatively more effective in filtration than cloth masks. The journal also states that N95 masks without gap can filter 99.9 per cent particles larger than 0.3 micrometer and 85 per cent particles smaller than 0.3 micrometer. Unlike a cloth mask, a N95 mask remains more securely fitted around the nose and mouth thereby ensuring that a person remains more safe and protected from toxic particles. As N95 masks come in a single colour and are devoid of any fancy designs, it makes a wearer look more smart, chic and well-protected from the big bad world.
One of the most cost-effective and regularly used types of face coverings in the pandemic stricken world are the surgical masks. As surgical masks are available in large numbers in a pack at an affordable price and are disposable, it widely flies of the shelves from medical stores or pharmacies. Surgical masks are widely used by the public as the hassles of properly and tenderly washing it is not at all required. With the facility of dispose-after-once-use available at a cheap rate, surgical masks are also thought to be more effective and are therefore popular among the people. The level of protection offered by a surgical mask mostly depends upon its quality. The medical professionals are always of the view that a high grade surgical mask from a reputed company is necessary for protection from coronavirus.
THE STYLES OF WEARING THE MASK
With the mask becoming an everyday essential, the styles of wearing it can also be seen to differ among the people. It is not a common sight to see all the people fully cover up their noses and mouths with a mask. Among the various weird styles of mask wearing that has been invented by the public, one of the most usual one to be found is the wearing of the mask on the neck while the cords are placed around the ears thereby leaving the whole part of mouth and nose exposed to infection without any cover. Another popular style of wearing the mask is leaving the nose bare but keeping the mouth covered.
People who have forgot to bring their masks from home are mostly seen to cover their nose and mouths with a handkerchief or dupatta in the streets. As the handkerchiefs or dupattas are used by the people as a face covering as per their style, these pieces of regular spare clothes has also become handy as a mask today.
Mask straps and mask chains also have become stylish add-ons to the mask. While the mask chain is mostly used to amplify the style quotient of the regularly used face cover, the mask strap is used to extend the cords of a mask a bit further behind the ear so that the skin of the hearing organ does not suffer from irritations like cuts or blemishes.
For a healthy environment in India, it is important for every person to wear a mask properly for a longer duration as the development of vaccine-induced herd immunity is going to take some time.