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Fabric masks don’t protect yourself or others from COVID-19

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We have been receiving queries pertaining to wearing of masks, particularly fabric masks and their efficacy in absorbing particles that cause respiratory infection.

It is common knowledge now that cloth face masks are a preventive measure with moderate efficacy in preventing the dissemination of respiratory infections caused by particles with the same size or smaller than those of Coronavirus.1 Therefore, the  claim that fabric masks do not work is false. Fabric masks also protect you and people around you from Covid-19.

The type of fabric used, number of layers and frequency of washings influence the efficacy of the barrier against droplets. Low coverage cloth face masks made of 100% cotton, scarf, pillowcase, antimicrobial pillowcase, linen, tea towel, and vacuum cleaner bag presented moderate protection in the process of absorbing the particles analyzed2, while high coverage cloth masks3made of HEPA washable vacuum bag, thick felted wool, cotton, heavy fabric, folded sock, cotton quilt, felt crafts, 100% nylon, denim, cotton jersey mesh, lycra, fusible interface, and lightweight shirt presented high protection.4,5

Studies have shown that most cloth masks present moderate absorption of micrometric and nanometric particles, therefore the filtering efficacy observed in these studies has been found to be similar to viral particles causing COVID-19.1

It is therefore true that use of masks – cloth and fabric ones as well, is recommended to the population, especially high coverage masks (more than one layer) due to their ability to provide greater protection in absorbing nanometric and micrometric particles, similar to the SARS-CoV-2 structure. Another recommendation is to discard and replace masks after the fourth washing cycle.1

Source:

1 De Souza L, et al. Rev Lat Am Enfermagem. 2020; 28: e3353. doi: 10.1590/1518-8345.4537.3353
2 MacIntyre CR, et al. BMJ Open. 2015 Apr;5(4):e006577. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2014-006577.
3 O’Kelly E, et al. MedRxiv. 2020 Apr; doi: 10.1101/2020.04.14.20065375.
4 Ngonghala CN, et al. MedRxiv. 2020 Apr; doi: 10.1101/2020.04.15.20066480.
5 Rodriguez-Palacios A, et al. Medrxiv. 2020 Apr; doi: 10.1101/2020.04.07.20045617.

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Coronavirus

It hasn’t affected kids till now – it won’t affect them ever

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Schools reopening across the globe has brought about a sense of panic in some parents and a sense of confidence in others because vaccination for children is yet to come and unvaccinated children are both at direct risk for COVID as well as at risk of transmitting the virus to others.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), data suggests that children under the age of 18 years represent about 8.5% of reported cases, with relatively few deaths compared to other age groups and usually mild disease. However, cases of critical illness have been reported. As with adults, pre-existing medical conditions have been suggested as a risk factor for severe disease and intensive care admission in children. Further studies are underway to assess the risk of infection in children and to better understand transmission in this age group.

Although research has shown that children develop severe disease from COVID-19 far less commonly than adults, and therefore, the risk of death due to severity of COVID-19 is also much lower in children. However, they are not immune. There are reports of children dying due to COVID-19.  But even when children do not get seriously ill with COVID-19 or show symptoms, they can still transmit the virus to other children and adults. The rate of child-to-adult transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is roughly half the rate of adult-to-child transmission. So even when the risk is low for children, transmission to other unvaccinated kids and adults is still a serious concern.

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Coronavirus

Breastfeeding post vaccination can kill your baby

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There isn’t any research to support this claim, and based on how vaccines work, there is no reason to believe that the vaccine could harm mom or baby. In fact studies support the fact that the vaccines are not excreted into the breast milk, but antibodies produced by mothers in response to the COVID-19 vaccine do — providing hope that breastfed babies might have some level of protection.

A report published in the journal Nature states that COVID-19 vaccines do not carry a risk of igniting an active infection and that they are extremely unlikely to cross into breast milk. The report further elaborates how the fragile messenger RNA used in the Pfizer–BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, is designed to break down so quickly that it should never leave the cells where it was injected. Therefore, it cannot get into the bloodstream and then the breast. In fact, experts believe none of the current vaccines will be excreted into breast milk.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) Guidance also recommends that mothers continue to breastfeed after vaccination. The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) and the UK Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation issued statements shortly after the first vaccines were authorized in both countries recommending COVID-19 vaccination for breastfeeding women.

Australia’s Department of Health has indicated that breastfeeding women can get an approved COVID-19 vaccine and don’t need to stop breastfeeding before or after. 

Therefore, in conclusion, no safety concerns have been identified in lactating women who have been vaccinated. Women can continue to breastfeed pre and post COVID-19 vaccination.

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Coronavirus

Outdoor activities carry as much risk as indoors

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A lot of people are discussing outdoors versus indoor parties or get togethers or just plain catching up. We decided to clarify this for you with evidence backed information.

The Washington Post recently published a statement that read that an important rule of thumb is that being outdoors is safer than being indoors, one of the many reasons for this is that the virus disperses quickly when you’re outdoors, which greatly reduces your susceptibility to be exposed to the virus that may have been shed by someone infected with the coronavirus.

According to an interview with Dr. Oliver Morgan published on the World Health Organisation website, people should try and meet outdoors wherever possible. This is because the COVID-19 virus can be transmitted when people talk, when they laugh and even sing. So, it is really important that we maintain good air circulation or air flow, which includes meeting outdoors. On the other hand, when we meet indoors, it can increase the risk of transmission if there is poor air circulation. In particular, during the second wave, it was clearly seen that when one person of a household was infected, his/her entire family got infected, which was largely due to the close contact with each other for extended periods of time.

But there are rules that one should keep in mind when being outdoors as well, so as to minimize infection and transmission.

Avoid sitting for longer periods or closely with someone for several hours.

If you are attending any outdoor activity such as watching a match or attending a group event, make sure to stay as protected as possible with regular hand sanitization and use of masks at all times.

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Coronavirus

Currency notes carry high-risk of COVID transmission

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When the pandemic started, due to lack of evidence backed data on routes of transmission, incubation period on surfaces and behavior patterns of the coronavirus, it was considered safest to have a blanket ban on almost everything you might touch and then touch your eyes, nose or mouth with. On the same lines, earlier studies during the beginning of the pandemic had indicated that human-to-human transmission of COVID-19 via cash and coins seems possible. These studies said that SARS-CoV-2 has been shown to be more stable on smooth surfaces, and a detectable level of infectious virus has been recovered from banknotes and stainless steel (coins) even after 2-4 days of inoculation. A 2020 October study had also reported that the viruses stay on bank notes for close to 28 days and therefore, should be disinfected before bringing home. The findings from that study also reiterated the importance of handwashing or using disinfecting hand sanitizer after visiting an ATM or handling cash.

However, a WHO representative quoted in a January article of the journal Nature had said that there might be limited evidence of the coronavirus being passed on through contaminated surfaces known as fomites. However, the WHO also added that fomites are still considered a possible mode of transmission, citing evidence that the Coronavirus causing COVID-19 has been identified in the vicinity of people COVID-19 infection.

More recently, the Bank of England had commissioned a research to find out how long the virus lasts on cash in view of the drop in use of currency notes since the pandemic hit in March. Results of this research have however found that the risk of getting coronavirus from handling bank notes was much lower than that of contracting it from breathing air particles in airconditioned or closed ventilation shops, or from touching items without sanitizing your hands, such as shopping baskets, door handles or self-checkout terminals.

The study found that the virus levels remained stable for an hour, but over the next five hours there was a sharp decline in the levels after 24 hours, these levels were as less as 1%.

Thus, while currency notes do not carry a high-risk of contamination, the Bank of England also cautions that it does not imply that they cannot cause infections ever. It is therefore important to keep sanitizing your hands whenever they touch any unknown or unsanitized objects or surfaces.

Initially surface transmission through fomites was considered a route of transmission of the virus. But as the understanding of the disease evolved, it became a less important route of spread and air borne transmission was identified as a primary mode of spread along with droplet infection. However, it continues to be a potential mode of spread.

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Fact Check

Coughing can save your life if you’re alone and having a heart attack

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An email chain dated back to 1999, a Facebook post that has more than 50K likes and as many forwards since 2019 when it was first published, all talk about how people can save themselves if they are alone and having a heart attack by “coughing repeatedly and vigorously” which can get their heart to beating normally again.

This advice to start coughing vigorously came to be called the ‘Cough CPR’ – however, contrary to the name, it does not seem to save lives. Reports claim it can do more harm than good if implemented.

A heart attack occurs when some part of the muscle of your heart is unable to get enough blood supply— happens because when a heart attack leads to abnormal heart rhythm, which leads to your heart stopping the pumping action. Therefore, in some cases, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or an electrical shock (defibrillation) to the heart works and there are numerous incidents where the heart gets to pumping again.

According to the Letters published by Harvard Heart, eminent cardiologist, Dr. Deepak Bhatt from the Harvard Medical School mentions that forceful coughing increases pressure in the chest, which helps maintain blood flow. A conscious, responsive person, by coughing forcefully and repetitively, might be able to keep enough blood flowing to the brain to remain conscious for a minute or two until the arrhythmia is treated; this is also why sometimes doctors ask their patients to cough if an arrhythmia—particularly a slow heart rate—occurs during a heart catheterization.

In a similar article published by the University of Chicago, cardiologist and professor of medicine Dr. Matthew Sorrentino also referred to the same method being used in their University’s medical setting wherein if someone would experience an abnormal heartbeat, they would tell the patient to cough really hard that could terminate the rhythm. However, adding to the subject, Dr. Deepak Bhatt further added that most heart attacks do not lead to arrhythmia and therefore, coughing would not make any difference.

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