With winters giving way to higher temperatures and sunny days, most of us were anticipating a gradual decrease in the cases of seasonal flu and other viral infections. The reality, however, is seemingly different. Continued cases of influenza and viral infections are being reported from across Delhi-NCR and even in other cities. The latest viral variant to make headlines is the H3N2 which has the infected people battling with symptoms such as cough, nausea, sore throat, body ache and fever. While the other symptoms may go away, some people are reporting a lingering cough that lasts for over a month in some cases.
“People who are at a higher risk with co-morbidities, existing respiratory ailments like asthma or allergies or who are immunocompromised, are particularly more vulnerable to this infection and experts say can face long term implications. “There has been a sudden and unexpected hike in viral infection primarily because of the H3N2 which is a contagious respiratory virus. Continued hand hygiene and mask usage is highly recommended,” says Dr SC Ajmani, General Physician
The cases due to the newer flu virus variants have defied seasonality. Experts have been saying time and again that the type of mask one uses is important for prevention. World renowned epidemiologist Dr. Tom Frieden, in 2021, strongly suggested that one must upgrade to an advanced N95 (which is the equivalent to an FFP2 mask) to prevent infection. In fact, several studies point out how FFP2 or N95 masks provide higher protection than regular cloth or surgical masks. A study by the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self Organization, Germany, found that fitting FFP2 and N95 masks provide 75 times better protection compared to surgical masks. In another study published in 2021 by PNAS, it is estimated that a person’s likelihood of getting sick after talking to an unmasked person having a viral infection is 90 % if wearing a surgical mask vis-a-vis a much lower 20 % if they are wearing a respirator or an advanced filtration mask. 
Here in India, a good option of an advanced filtration mask is the BIS approved FFP2 S mask by Savlon. A BIS approved FFP2 S mask like Savlon provides protection from virus, bacteria, dust, pollution, allergens and pollen (>= 0.3 micron). These masks provide 95% protection from particle aerosols >= 0.3 micron. These masks have electrostatically charged melt blown filters which provide advanced filtration compared to ordinary masks. These masks are also tested for comfort and skin compatibility. Savlon FFP2 S Masks are BIS Certified. Each batch undergoes rigorous testing on quality performance and efficacy as prescribed by BIS. By wearing a good quality, well fitted mask the effects of viruses, bacteria, dust, pollution, pollen and allergens can be greatly reduced and can contribute to overall better health.
With newer virus variants coming up every few months, it becomes important that we continue to adopt preventive measures to keep infections at bay. Masking must be made a conscious lifestyle choice for the sake of our safety and for others as well, especially when visiting high germ places like hospitals, testing labs etc. Wearing an advanced FFP2 S or an N 95 mask will provide the first level of defence that will go a long way in keeping us healthy, because after all hygiene sahi toh health sahi.
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