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How useful are face masks in helping combat the spread of flu and colds?


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If worn and used properly under the right circumstances masks are a deterrent to catching the flu et al. This includes washing hands frequently, coughing into your arm (elbow) rather than spewing it into the air, and keeping away from infected people.

Proper use is vitally important for the masks to be effective.

Some things to consider if you think Only wearing a mask will protect you:

If people constantly touch doorknobs, elevator buttons, their computer keyboards, and subway straps without washing their hands immediately after, then the masks are close to useless. If people sneeze into their masks, they’ve created a germ culture that will infect them very soon.

More frequently, if people wear them on their chins, again the masks are useless.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

I think they provide some benefit. They do block aerosol droplets. But I think more importantly, they prevent you from touching your nose or mouth with your hands. Hands are the main problem.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I am always surprised at the cultural difference between east and west regarding mask usage. You can wear a mask onto an aircraft going out of Japan, but landing somewhere like Europe you immediately stick out like a sore thumb, as if you are nerdish, paranoid, or sick.

This has to originate in the opinion of medical experts in the west who continue to say that they make little or no difference. The general public goes with the flow.

Personally I agree with Raw Beer. As a general filter and barrier both in and out between people, a mask can be at least one step better than nothing, i.e. one weapon in the armory.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Most masks do not “filter” the virus. The virus is small enough to enter through the gauze of the mask. A little like trying to filter tennis balls through a soccer goal.

They can prevent hand to mouth contamination.

Hand washing is the key!

6 ( +6 / -0 )

This is the Australian take on it:

Chief medical officer Brendan Murphy said there has been no known human-to-human transmission of the coronavirus in Australia. "There is no cause for concern in the Australian public, there is no human to human transmission of this virus," he said. "It's important to note because we had some media [ask] about masks today; there is no need for the Australian public to wear masks."


0 ( +0 / -0 )

Masks and prayer have the same success rate.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

Quote: Airborne infections spread when bacteria or viruses travel on dust particles or small respiratory droplets that become aerosolized when an infected person sneezes or coughs. 


So does the mask not stop or filter the dust particles and respiratory droplets, without which the virus would not travel?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

My Japanese doctor asked me to remove my mask, saying they are inefective.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

So many differing opinions. One physician says they work and another says they don't. Some say cold and flu viruses are airborne, others say they are contact viruses. I remember reading a report from the WHO during the SARS pandemic. It stated, for a mask to be effective against contracting and spreading viruses it must be a 12-ply surgical mask and changed every twenty minutes.

These paranoid people are wearing paper dust masks and given a false sense security. People seem to ignore common practice and knowledge for paranoia. A fever from a virus will (should) only last for 24 hours or so. If the fever persists you need antibiotics. People start coughing up junk and blowing the muck out of their noses and wear masks thinking they will stop the spread. The junk they are coughing up and blowing into tissues is dead white blood cells and dead virus cells. A fever is the body's defense and after the fever has broken the virus is dead. A healthy vitamin rich diet with lots of veges and fruits, good personal hygiene and good sleeping habits will do more to prevent a viral infection than any mask will.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Depends. I notice (from visiting someone in hospital) that currently, all visitors are required to wear a mask until March. But that's more likely to do with the influenza season than the current alarm over the corona virus.

If there's anything that can halt or slow the progress of such epidemics, than it should be encouraged. Especially when it's the elderly and the poor who will suffer the most.

Stay safe, friends.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Completely ineffective. The very definition of a palliative, all market driven to produce profits for mask makers, who have found a gold mine in the malleable Nihonjin.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

The problem I have with these masks in Tokyo is that very sick salarimen wear them and then think they can ride crowded trains and go to work all the while infecting everyone around them. It is a false sense of security both ways - giving and getting a virus.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

One good thing about masks is that they help keep my face warm when I'm cycling in the dead middle of winter.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Fully agree with "Disillusioned"!

Surgical masks will "do the trick", but who can afford those masks (chnages).

Regular masks maybe better than nothing, but still - do you wear them 24/7?

Don't think so.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I usually wear gloves. Wool in the winter, cotton in summer.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I know first hand that those paper masks DON'T work. In fact none do UNLESS they make a positive fit around your face. How do I know this, I have done plenty of woodwork, drywall work, concrete work and painting using spray guns and I always used a silicon facemask that has two cartridges attached at both sides. It has a one way valve and dual stage filtration, main filter certified to stop organic particles with a separate dust filter attached on the outer ring part. I can't even smell nasty paints when I wear one. Now when I've had to help out and I didn't have that mask with me, those paper masks including the pricey N95 always ended up leaving me with coloured snot and I was also coughing it up. Those are big particles compared to these viruses so you're dreaming if you think those off the shelf masks will do anything more than act as a barrier to slow down hand to mouth and nose contact. They will make somebody some money though.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Didn’t work on the Boston part side in 1918-19.

Don’t world I on the Tokyo 地下鉄 either:

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Just wearing a mask in and of itself - not very high at all. Not if other precautions are not followed.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I've had a request from someone in HK to buy some for them. I went to about 7 shops today. They're all bloody sold out!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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