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Tap to find out if cloth masks can protect you from COVID-19?

By Sharonya Kundu

Cloth masks can protect you from COVID-19 only if washed daily at high temperatures, according to a study.

Cloth masks may reduce the transmission of viruses, which causes COVID-19, as long as they are washed daily at high temperatures. Both cloth masks and surgical marks both become contaminated after use. Cloth masks are reused, while surgical marks are disposed of after use. It can be irresistible to use the same mask for multiple days in a row and also it increases the risk of contamination.

The latest study published within the journal BMJ Open remains the sole RCT ever conducted on the efficacy of fabric masks in preventing viral infections. The researchers did detailed research into the 2011 data on whether the doctors and nurses in their study washed their masks daily and if yes, then how did they wash the masks.

They found that if a fabric mask is washed within the hospital laundry, they are as effective as a surgical mask but this study was conducted over five years ago, the researchers did not test for coronavirus. Instead, they included common respiratory pathogens like influenza, rhinovirus, and seasonal coronavirus in their analysis. It is supported by self-reported washing data and was conducted by doctors in high-risk wards during a healthcare setting. If someone is wearing a mask in public is unlikely to return in contact with an equivalent amount of pathogens as a healthcare worker during high-risk ward, still, it is recommended daily washing of fabric mask.

According to an analysis, handwashing the masks did not provide enough protection. People who self-wash their masks by hand expand the danger of infection compared to those who use the hospital laundry. A clear message from the researchers is that fabric masks work but after use, it must be washed properly before using it again, otherwise, it becomes ineffective.

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