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Table of Contents
Year : 2020  |  Volume : 21  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 104-105

Masks: To wear or not

Faculty of Health, School of Nursing, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia

Date of Submission26-Apr-2020
Date of Decision22-Jun-2020
Date of Acceptance29-May-2020
Date of Web Publication14-Sep-2020

Correspondence Address:
Thuy Le
Faculty of Health, School of Nursing, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/IJCN.IJCN_32_20

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How to cite this article:
Le T, Hoang V. Masks: To wear or not. Indian J Cont Nsg Edn 2020;21:104-5

How to cite this URL:
Le T, Hoang V. Masks: To wear or not. Indian J Cont Nsg Edn [serial online] 2020 [cited 2021 Feb 28];21:104-5. Available from: https://www.ijcne.org/text.asp?2020/21/1/104/295037

To the Editor,

Although measures to contain the virus have had some degree of success, COVID-19 continues to spread globally. Social distancing and social isolation are known to be effective in reducing this spread; however, the wearing of masks by individuals should also be strongly encouraged, for the following reasons:

  • Although not explicitly mandated by the WHO (due to a lack of conclusive data regarding its effectiveness),[1] such a lack of data pertaining to the wearing of masks should in no way be equated with their ineffectiveness. Furthermore, it has now been well established that SARS-CoV-2 virus can be transmitted by asymptomatic individuals;[2] hence, any recommendations regarding the wearing of masks should not exclude those with no clear symptoms. The wearing of masks, although clearly not a fail-safe method of protecting both an individual from others and others from an individual, works to significantly slow the spread of the virus, as the virus can easily be spread within airborne droplets and microdroplets, which can travel more than six feet from a coughing or sneezing individual [3]
  • The wearing of masks, along with other measures, has long been recommended as a means to reduce the spread of respiratory infections, such as influenza [4]
  • Social distancing is clearly effective, but such a measure can difficult for individuals to consistently adhere to, as many still need to leave their places of residence to attend their places of work or to undertake other duties or tasks, or to conduct personal business deemed necessary. At such times, it may often be hard for individuals to strictly following the 2 m-distancing guidelines, especially if others around them are failing to do so. Previously, there has been some suggestion that the wearing of masks could give individuals a false sense of security and self-protection, leading to a potential or supposed reduction in efforts to practice safe social distancing.[5] Considering the severity and seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic, this seems unlikely to be the case in these current circumstances. Therefore, increasing public awareness of the benefits of wearing masks would likely have its desired effect. Realistically, individuals should be made aware of any measures that may potentially to help reduce the spread of the virus, especially when such measures are low-cost and do not unduly impact on an individual's ability to go about their daily life
  • Recent research by Abrar has indicated that cloth masks, when made from appropriate material and using well-established and tested designs, can also help reduce the spread of airborne droplets.[6] Considering the ease by which such cloth masks can be produced by individuals or businesses within the community, these may also act as potentially suitable replacements in situations where the supply of surgical masks is limited, as is currently the case in many areas.

In the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, all potentially beneficial measures should be considered, including the adoption, mandated or otherwise, of the use of masks in the community.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

WHO. Advice on the Use of Masks in the Context of COVID-19. WHO; 2020. Available from: https://apps.who.int/iris/handle/10665/331693. [Last accessed on 2020 Apr 06].  Back to cited text no. 1
Hu Z, Song C, Xu C, Jin G, Chen Y, Xu X, et al. Clinical characteristics of 24 asymptomatic infections with COVID-19 screened among close contacts in Nanjing, China. Sci China Life Sci 2020;63:706-11.  Back to cited text no. 2
NHK World – Japan. Microdroplets Pose Coronavirus Risk; 2020. Available from: https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/ataglance/844/. [Last accessed on 2020 Apr 01].  Back to cited text no. 3
Driessche KV, Hens N, Tilley P, Quon BS, Chilvers MA, de Groot R, et al. Surgical masks reduce airborne spread of Pseudomonas aeruginosa in colonized patients with cystic fibrosis. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2015;192:897.  Back to cited text no. 4
Lisa M, Brosseau MS. Commentary: Masks-for-All for COVID-19 not Based on Sound Data; 2020. Available from: https://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2020/04/commentary-masks-all-covid-19-not-based-sound-data?fbclid=IwAR3TeLcU1UZ4-MV1pA5hTBKpWMdMcD9Pi191rER1l4r2CjaqVjRnEshyiOU. [Last accessed on 2020 Apr 01].  Back to cited text no. 5
Chughtai HS, MacIntyre CR. Use of cloth masks in the practice of infection control-evidence and policy gaps. Int J Infect Control 2013;9:1-12. [doi: 10.3396/ijic.v9i3.020.13].  Back to cited text no. 6


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