Amid a rapid spread of Covid-19 cases, the Centre on Monday advised people to wear masks even inside homes, especially when using a common space and also said that it is best not to invite visitors.The government, however, added that unnecessary panic was causing more harm than good.
Addressing a joint press conference with other senior functionaries, Dr VK Paul, Member (Health), Niti Aayog, said, “If there is Covid-19 positive case in the family, it is very important that the person wears a mask even indoors because the virus can spread to others in the home. I would rather go on to say that the time has come that we start wearing masks at home even otherwise.”
What is the reason for this recommendation?
Covid-19 spreads primarily from person to person through respiratory droplets, which travel in the air when someone coughs, sneezes, talks, shouts or sings. These droplets can then land in the mouths or noses of people in the vicinity, or may be breathed in.
Again, a large population does not show symptoms. The asymptomatic people can continue to spread the infection at home, at a faster pace. Dr Paul stressed that even when asymptomatic people are talking, they can spread the infection.
That is why we have been seeing entire families, in this wave, turning positive, even when most of them have stayed indoors
A significant proportion of the vulnerable population in India have been showing severe symptoms including shortness of breath, and many have required hospitalisation. The surge in the requirement of oxygen beds has overwhelmed the health infrastructure.
Masks are mainly intended to protect others from Covid-19 rather than just the wearer. Therefore, the recommendation is aimed not just at breaking the chain of transmission, but also at protecting those at highest risk.
There are two targeted outcomes. First, the elderly and those with comorbidities can be protected significantly, even if one member of the family has an asymptomatic infection. Second, it can reduce the local house outbreaks that have marked the second wave.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) makes an almost similar recommendation. The CDC says masks should still be worn in addition to staying at least 6 feet apart, especially when indoors around people who don’t live in your household.