We were first told that ONLY N95 can stop 95% of COVID virus. We were also told that none other masks provide protection. Then recommendations gradually shifted to wearing any mask because even though it may not protect the wearer, it may protect others around.
The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated the world in the past nine months. This disease spreads from person to person mainly through the respiratory route after an infected person coughs, sneezes, sings, talks or breathes. Till date almost 59 million cases are reported worldwide and among them we have lost 1.4 million human lives due to COVID-19 virus. At this detrimental situation, a COVID-19 vaccine is the only hope to move towards normalcy. However inventing an effective COVID-19 vaccine for the entire human population itself a huge challenge. The earliest expectation for the COVID vaccine for the mass human population by end of 2021. Government and various health organizations, including WHO is advising to face mask since beginning to stop the spread of this virus to a great extent. All of a sudden wearing a face mask is not an easy job.
An efficient strategy to contain the Corona virus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is essential to limit the damages in human lives and global economy. COVID-19 spreads mainly from person to person through respiratory droplets. Respiratory droplets travel into the air during coughing, or sneezing. Same droplets infect the other people when it goes inside the body through mouth or nose. As per WHO, among those who develop symptoms, most (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing hospital treatment. About 15% become seriously ill and require oxygen and 5% become critically ill and need intensive care. Complications leading to death may include respiratory failure, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), sepsis and septic shock, thromboembolism, and/or multiorgan failure, including injury of the heart, liver or kidneys. In rare situations, children can develop a severe inflammatory syndrome a few weeks after infection.
In the absence of highly effective drugs, vaccines, and adequate medical resources, many measures are used to manage the infection rate and to decrease the load on limited hospital resources. Wearing masks is among the non-pharmaceutical intervention (NPI) measures that could be effectively implemented at a minimum cost.
Mask is a very simple barrier to help prevent the respiratory droplets released by infected persons from infecting others. In fact it began protecting people from air pollution, but now with the COVID-19 pandemic, masks have become such a necessity that medical stores are facing hardship to meet the rising demand. Studies showed that masks reduce the spray of droplets when worn over the nose and mouth. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) highly recommends using face masks to prevent the spread of the SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, yet the topic of masks has been the center of controversial debates too in many counties. On July 14, 2020 the CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said in a press release: “Cloth face coverings are one of the most powerful weapons we have to slow and stop the spread of the virus — particularly when used universally within a community setting.”
Let us quickly see the various masks available today from an end consumer’s view:
N95 Respirator: Highly effective and designed to protect health workers from treating infected patients.
Surgical Mask: Disposable and mainly used by medical professionals during surgeries or other procedures and used to available mainly in the medical stores.
Cloth Mask: Made out of cloth to fit easily and comfortably. Multiple layers of fabric create a barrier of protection between nose, mouth and the outside air.
We were first told that ONLY N95 can stop 95% of COVID virus. We were also told that none other masks provide protection. Then recommendations gradually shifted to wearing any mask because even though it may not protect the wearer, it may protect others around. Unfortunately humans are not willing to put themselves into trouble for the benefits of others. Then we saw the recommendation changed once again and now it is saying everyone should wear a mask and it does protect wearer too. If not mask at least tie a kerchief around your face. Now if you are developing a conspiracy theory involving fabric manufacturers, I won’t blame you. After all apparel industry are among the ones who has seen the major difficult times.
Meanwhile the apparel industry has found a new opportunity of sartorial option of our look, shape and identity. You get masks made of the same fabric as your dress, and it is washable, made of cotton, with multiple layers, and with built-in air filtration systems.
Some may feel that mask is an unusual addition to their daily routines because of the way they conceal the parts of human faces that are normally exposed. To compensate that, many are regarding the masks a newer way to show their identity. So not only the above mentioned 3 types of masks, but also various face coverings like Bandana, Neck Gaiters and Balaclavas, Cone style piece of clothes are used as masks.
May be 2020 will be the beginning of a new fashion named “Fashion on Face”. The masks have already got a room in the wardrobes of many. Due to this pandemic, protective masks have quickly become stylish and indispensable accessories. There are discussions among teenagers regarding how to coordinate them with their trendy outfits like T-Shirts, Skirts, Denims, Hoodies or Bermudas and they are expressing their concern about mask fashion mistakes over social media. And it is really interesting to find that some brands are taking one step further by offering models to match wedding dresses or Halloween costumes with Mask.
One side everything was locked down and on other side face masks created new job opportunities to earn livelihood to run families for survival for many. Over the period of time when the COVID 19 vaccine would be made available to all then it would be interesting to see if the fashion on face would change its statement or get vanished.