COVID-19: Govt suggests using homemade face masks

Reading Time: 3 minutes

New Delhi, April 2 (IANS) The Office of Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government, on Thursday, suggested usage of homemade face masks for people to overcome shortage.

Dr Shailja Vaidya Gupta, Senior Adviser, Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government, said “This is primarily meant for the people who want to wear mask but do not have access to it. They can make these washable and reusable masks home.”

Gupta said the shortage of face masks and hand sanitizers is a stark reality.

Axious public frantically shopped hygiene products, in particular marks and hand sanitizers, amid COVID-19 outbreak due to which the sudden increased supply could not be met by the burgeoning demand.

Therefore the government issued the manual on homemade masks, “Masks for Curbing the Spread of SARS-CoV-2 Coronavirus” for home fabrication. The key criteria for proposed designs are ease of access to materials, ease of making at home, ease of use and reuse.

However, the government hitherto maintained that face masks were only required for the people who are suffering from the Coronavirus disease and their close contacts, for example a designated family member who is looking after the patient or healthcare workers who are treating them. A healthy person needs not to wear face masks.

But as cases of COVID-19 surge in India, the government said protective masks lower the chances of coronavirus entering our respiratory system through droplets that are present in the air.

According to a report published in Pub Med analyses show that if 50 per cent of the population were to wear masks, only 50 per cent of the population would be infected by the virus. Once 80 per cent of the population wears a mask, the outbreak can be stopped substantially. Wearing of masks is especially recommended for people living in densely populated areas.

“India has pockets of dense population. It’s mind boggling the density; the North East district of Delhi has a population density of 36,155 per square km, the models and control points for India are out of scale! Masks and washing hands will help and are easy to make at home”. said Dr Gupta.

The Science and Technology Empowered Committee was constituted on March 19. The committee is jointly chaired by Prof. Vinod Paul, Member, NITI Aayog and Prof. K Vijay Raghavan, Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India, and is responsible for coordination amongst science agencies, scientists, industries and regulatory bodies, and to take speedy decisions on research and development to implementation related to the Sars-Cov-2 virus and the COVID-19 disease.