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Why it’s a waste to make kids wear N95 masks

STILL VULNERABLE The N95 mask is too large for children, leaving a gap under their chin through which viruses can invade their bodies. Padding a surgical mask with tissue paper may increase the mask’s filtering capacity, but it also increases the gap between the mask and a child’s face, making the child even more vulnerable to infection. —CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS

The N95 mask already in short supply would be wasted if used by young children to avoid catching the new coronavirus COVID-19, a health and wellness consultant said on Thursday.

“The N95 mask will not be effective on children since it is too big for their faces. There is a gap (between mask and face). The goal of the mask is to contain respiratory droplets by acting as a filter. A gap will allow the virus to enter. The mask would be (useless),” Dr. Kiel Martin of Maxicare Wellness Corp. said.

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While inserting tissue paper between a plain surgical mask and the face increases the mask’s filtering capacity, doing so also increases the gap between the mask and the face, making the child more vulnerable to infection.

Preventing spread of virus

Martin gave a brief lecture on coronaviruses at the Inquirer. Among the topics he discussed were ways of preventing the spread of the new coronavirus.

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Scientists have not determined whether the virus is airborne, but they have said it can be transmitted through direct contact with carriers or with respiratory droplets.

There is no local transmission of the virus in the Philippines, and the Department of Health and the World Health Organization do not recommend wearing masks except for people who are ailing or taking care of sick relatives or visiting relatives confined in hospitals.

Still, Martin said he supported the Philippine Society for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases’ position recommending use of plain surgical masks as part of “proper cough etiquette” for ailing people to prevent the spread of disease.

Thoroughly washing hands

Martin said a surgical mask can filter out the denser droplets but not the virus that measures 100 nanometers—small enough to penetrate the N95 mask’s material.

A corporate physician for various private companies, Martin reiterated suggestions, such as consistently and thoroughly washing hands, using 70 percent alcohol as disinfectant and observing the cough etiquette.

‘Dracula maneuver’

When coughing, Martin said, “[w]e usually cover out mouths with our hands. That’s considered poor coughing etiquette. Viruses that come in contact with the hands could stick to inanimate objects we touch later.”

Coughing into the crook of a bent arm is the correct way to prevent the spread of viruses, he said.

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Martin suggested the “Dracula maneuver,” named after the legendary vampire’s flipping his cape with his bent right arm to hide his face.

For more news about the novel coronavirus click here.
What you need to know about Coronavirus.
For more information on COVID-19, call the DOH Hotline: (02) 86517800 local 1149/1150.

The Inquirer Foundation supports our healthcare frontliners and is still accepting cash donations to be deposited at Banco de Oro (BDO) current account #007960018860 or donate through PayMaya using this link .

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TAGS: Coronavirus, COVID-19, Hygiene, N95, surgical mask
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