Science and Medicine

From the Czech Republic a lesson on face masks against Coronavirus

27 March 2020 | Written by La redazione

In the days of the coronavirus, the mask has become almost a symbol, of struggle as of emergency. The Czech Republic has fully embraced this dualism by addressing the emergency with the creation of homemade masks.

With the Coronavirus emergency, one of the problems is the exhaustion of essential medical supplies. Various factories and companies of various types have already started to fill this void, those who modify their production line, such as Ferrari, who will make factories and know-how available for the production of emergency fans, who will make their own 3D printers available to supply hospitals with precious valves necessary for the operation of respirators. If these devices are complex and not everyone can contribute to creating them there is something we could do and that would make a great contribution in the fight against the emergency: to create masks.


The experience of the Czech Republic. Petr Ludwig, Czech communicator and popularizer, on March 14 published an online video showing how to create a mask at home. Within a week, the video was seen by half a million people and led many to arm themselves with fabrics, sewing machines and elastic bands to create masks for themselves or for those who do not have them. Whole textile companies have started to follow Ludwig’s suggestion distributing homemade masks by post or even creating “masks trees”, hangers placed outside the houses with hanging masks for those who need them. The whole initiative involved the whole country, leading to the creation of online maps showing the places where you can get a homemade mask for free.

The enthusiasm for masks in the Czech Republic is probably even a political gesture fueled by anger towards the government that would not be intervening with the right firmness. Making your own masks is a way to compensate for the lack of government action and take your fate into your own hands. The matter has practically become a meme: around Prague you can see statues wearing handmade masks, buses and trams with covered front radiators, there are even those who have made a viral song.



The effectiveness of the masks. It is important to emphasize one thing: the masks do not protect against contagion. The virus easily passes through the meshes of the tissues and from the sides of the masks. Their purpose, in fact, is another: to protect others from us. Coughing and sneezing, but also breathing and speaking, scatter what are called droplets, micro-drops of saliva, which in the case of powerful sneezing can easily reach a meter away, which could contain the virus inside. For this reason, it is important, first of all, to stay at home, if this is not possible then you must keep your distance and wear masks. In fact, these block most of the droplets greatly reducing the risk of infecting someone.

The World Health Organization recommends wearing a mask only if you suspect you have contracted the virus or if you experience symptoms such as coughing or sneezing, or if you take care of a person who may be infected. The use of the mask helps to limit the spread of the virus but must be adopted in addition to other hygiene measures. The issue becomes more complex, however, when one takes into account that there are asymptomatic people who are infected with the virus but do not know it, so it may make sense for anyone to wear a mask when going outside.

The problem, however, is that, as we mentioned at the beginning of the article, there are not enough masks for everyone, also because they must be changed on a regular basis and it is good to leave them available to those who really need them: doctors, nurses and those who necessarily things must stay in contact with other people. Here, therefore, DIY could come into play: following some precautions, anyone can create a homemade mask, always considering that homemade masks have reduced effectiveness but are still useful as a last minute remedy and certainly better than the do not wear anything or a simple scarf.

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