Can the face mask you wear protect you from being infected with COVID-19? Believe it or not the answer is NO. Since this answer is likely to jolt, annoy or stir you up, let us have a more elaborate conversation on the matter but first, let me ask you a question:
Did you watch television news coverage of the invasion of the Accra Girls High School by parents, after the reports of COVID-19 infections at the school? One apparently agitated individual being interviewed on camera gesticulated angrily and spoke with such force as to have sent a raging sea of COVID-19 droplets all the way from here to the Gibraltar. Yet, reporters stood before him and had their phones, cameras and recorders stuck in the man’s face, as he bombarded the air around him with unseen droplets.
The reporters apparently felt confident of their safety because they were wearing masks. That is the grave misconception about masks. Anti-coronavirus masks are neither designed nor intended to protect YOU but the people around you, so that when you speak, cough, sneeze or even breathe, you do not infect people around you with droplets.
The most commonly used facemasks are the surgical facemask and fabric mask. They are effective in trapping droplets within your mask so that they do not infect people around you. The rub is that the masks cannot stop infected droplets from entering your mask and infecting you. When a person wears a face mask, about 70 per cent of the outside air moving around him goes through the mask, and about 30 per cent travels around the sides of the mask. This is because air follows the path of least resistance when it hits your mask.
The fabric masks also allow air into and around the sides of the mask but because it has no moisture-repelling layers, is able to stop only about two percent of air flowing into the mask. The rest of the air gets in. If a person wearing a surgical or fabric mask is in an environment with viral particles, the particles will find an easy path around the surgical or fabric mask.
The N95 respirator is able to stop most infected particles from entering it and infecting the wearer but this mask is thick and very tightly worn, and is not recommended for public use. It is largely restricted to use by health and medical workers.
Most COVID-19 infections come from people who have no symptoms. That is the wisdom behind the use of the masks and what makes them extremely important. If governments make the wearing of masks compulsory for all citizens, whether healthy or asymptomatic, the spread of the disease can be halted or drastically minimized. Discounting social distancing, the wearing of masks is therefore the most effective means of stopping the spread of the disease.
This is a discreet observation I have made: Most of the public officials and figures who have tested positive for the virus have at different times appeared on various forums without face masks or with masks sitting on their chins, to make public statements, contribute to public discussions and address the media. Check out the news archives for clues.
A law that prosecutes an ordinary person on the street for not wearing a mask, must apply to ALL persons irrespective of social standing. Someone with a mask hanging around his neck, shoulder or chin is NOT WEARING A MASK and will infect many if he is asymptomatic. This should be elementarily obvious to the police and to the law, so why are so many people speaking at public places and on public forums with masks on their chins?