As per latest development, India’s highest science advisory body, the Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser (OPSA) recommended the widespread use of masks. They further endorsed home-made masks that could easily be made and are reusable after washing and sanitizing. Analyses show that if 50% of the population were to wear masks, only 50% of the population would be infected by the virus. Once 80% of the population wears a mask, the outbreak can be stopped immediately.
Why masks are important: Coronavirus(Covid-19) is transmitted through direct contact with respiratory droplets of an infected person (generated through coughing and sneezing), and touching surfaces contaminated with the virus. Coronavirus may survive on surfaces for several hours and can be simply transmitted. This is why it is important that a sick person should wear masks to cover their nose and mouth. Wearing masks is especially recommended for people living in densely populated areas across India.
India is a country of more than 1.35 billion people and there is always scarcity of various commodities. In case of novel coronavirus, it has been proven without doubt that masks indeed play an important role in containing the spread of diseases as seen in countries like Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan, who have seen much less impact of Coronavirus despite of being so close to the epicenter of the pandemic(Wuhan, China). We firmly believe that once 80% of our population, that is 1 billion of us, wear masks outside, we can firmly control the spread of Coronavirus and for that we need your valuable support.
The proposed masks would be made using 100% cotton or cotton-blend cloth which is breathable yet provides unto 70% protection from infectious germs (in comparison surgical masks provide 90% protection but one-time use only), which is very effective in controlling the virus spread. These can be easily made at home using basic stitching skills. The guidelines were shared by OPSA in a release on March 31, 2020.
Sewa International has already started the movement and our women volunteers in Tripura, Gujarat and West Bengal are producing home-made reusable masks. So far, we have distributed more than 3000 masks to healthcare workers, civil administration staff, bank employees and police personnel. Our first priority is to provide these life saving yet simple masks to our health workers and essential service providers, who are working tirelessly round the clock at this national emergency, and are more prone to get infected while treating and handling the infected people. Note - Though not ideal for health workers, they work as standby in case they run out of surgical masks.
These masks would be distributed in and around slums and village areas, where the availability and awareness are both missing. We intend to engage more volunteers and make it a mass movement across the country, as it is very much needed seeing the current situation. Moreover, it also generates livelihood opportunities for needy people who are ready to produce them.
As responsible citizen(s), we must pledge to support COVID-19 heroes who are risking their lives so that we are safe at home. Sewa International's humble appeal to its supporters worldwide is to come forward and help provide home-made masks to the whole nation, by supporting our campaign, Task4Mask.