At a press briefing Dr. V K Paul, head of India’s Covid-19 task force, said that people should wear masks at home to break the chain of transmission. The new strain of coronavirus has led to a massive surge of cases across India. The virus remains suspended in the air in the form of an aerosol and is much more transmissible.
A large population does not show symptoms. The asymptomatic people can continue to spread the infection at home; at a faster pace. Therefore, entire families are turning Covid-19 positive, even when most of them have stayed indoors.
The infected person must wear a mask and be isolated in a separate room. The others must also wear it when sitting with other family members at home.
90% risk of infection is associated with two individuals not wearing a mask and not maintaining adequate social distancing. The risk gets reduced to 30% if the unaffected person is wearing a mask.
Research shows that if physical distance is not maintained, one person can infect 406 people in 30 days.
A large proportion of India’s population has been showing severe symptoms, including shortness of breath, and many have required hospitalization. The surge in the requirement of oxygen beds has overwhelmed the health infrastructure.
There are two outcomes of wearing masks at home. First, the elderly and those with co-morbidities can be protected significantly, even if one member of the family is asymptomatic. Second, it can reduce the local house outbreaks that have marked the second wave.
In the British Medical Journal, a study of Chinese families in Beijing has found that indoor masking is 79% effective in curbing transmission, but only before symptoms emerge.
Masks are mainly intended to protect others from Covid-19 rather than just the wearer.
Therefore, the recommendation is aimed to break the chain of transmission and protect those at the highest risk.
Dr. Paul’s recommendation comes as India reported a record 352,991 new cases on Monday and 2,812 deaths in the last 24 hours; the country’s active caseload has now reached 2,813,658.