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The mask protects even if the rest do not use it

Despite the fact that the mask is no longer mandatory in most interior spaces, there are people who for reasons of health, tranquility or custom have decided to continue wearing them. Experts believe that they continue to be useful even if others do not use them due to the individual and collective protection they entail at a time when the virus continues to circulate with a high incidence.

The president of the Spanish Society of Immunology (SEI), Marcos López Hoyos, specifies that those who should wear it indoors are those with symptoms, not only of covid, but also catarrhal or flu-like illness, to prevent them from expelling fluids and thus protect the environment from infections. who doesn’t wear it. López Hoyos warns that the hospital occupation will go further because “the glass overflows” and although people are protected by vaccination and there will not be a sudden explosion of covid, wearing a mask indoors is a measure that should continue to be maintained in the face of the possibility of a new wave that he hopes “is not as important as the Christmas wave”.

The professor of Preventive Medicine and Public Health and member of the Covid group of the Spanish Society of Primary Care Physicians (Semergen), Vicente Martín, defends continuing to use the mask regardless of what the majority of the population does because although others do not use, it continues to bring benefits. In Martín’s opinion, to remove the mask indoors, the amount of air that is shared should be taken into account because “in those places where fewer cubic meters per person are touched, there is a greater risk of getting sick and becoming infected.”

Gyms and restaurants, places of greater riskç

This expert in Preventive Medicine and Public Health points out that according to a recent study published in the journal Nature, gyms are among the places with the highest risk because “people run, exhale, have a higher respiratory rate, with more power they generate more aerosols, so that it is highly recommended to use the FFP2 mask that closes well and makes contagion difficult”.

Other risk scenarios where wearing a mask is recommended, no matter what the rest of the population does, would be restaurants, bars, hotels, second-hand markets, religious services and pet stores. Martín recalls that the mask brings more benefits the more people wear it and when that percentage reaches 80% it is like group immunity, it works like a shield that cuts the chain of transmission and if someone who wears it gets infected, it does not spread by which is protecting even those who do not get vaccinated.

The mask in schools, effective but not effective

This expert understands that the mask in schools is effective but not effective because it is very difficult for children to keep them on properly. Martín maintains that in schools it works the other way around and it is the teacher who protects the students because he is the one with the greatest risk of contagion, speaks loudly, vocalizes and expels more aerosols and there is a greater risk of outbreaks.

He admits that in schools it is a controversial measure because it is a complicated scenario that requires a lot of effort from everyone and people get tired. And it also depends on the rate of infection and if the incidence is low it would not be necessary, but this is something that does not happen now, so it is recommended that the teacher wear FFP2, to protect himself and the class.

Better a well-used mask than not wearing it

This expert also warns of the difference between using one or another mask. FFP2 is the most effective “because it closes, creates a vacuum and contagion is very difficult, although it also depends on the amount of virus in the environment.” Some studies estimate the protection of FFP2 masks in 27 hours while cloth masks protect only 27 minutes.

For Martín, these data are debatable and he insists that whatever mask is used, “it is better to have it than not to have it.” Regarding recycled use, he also says that it is better to wear a very used or badly worn one than not to wear it, although the ideal is to put it on well, covering the mouth and nose and closing the gaps because its effectiveness will depend on it. However, this expert applauds the Government’s decision to eliminate compulsory indoor use and leave it to the will of the people because “imposing it for too long could make it almost police, and thus very few things are resolved.”

fatigue relaxation

Both López Hoyos and Vicente Martín agree that the elimination of the mask indoors responds to pandemic fatigue. According to López Hoyos, it is “a message of relaxation, saying that the virus is not here” and is understood more from the political, social and economic point of view. While Martín considers that “the pressure to maintain the mandatory nature of the mask indoors beyond what is reasonable could have a social response and even people who are in favor could take it off as a sign of fatigue or protest”

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