The sight of people wearing face masks in public has become an all too familiar during the Coronavirus pandemic, but do they really offer protection against the Covid-19 virus and if so, which of the many available masks should you chose to keep yourself safe? As ever, the advice of governments and health organisations is often contradictory and in a rapidly evolving situation it is liable to change. However, these are some of the main points.
Should you wear a mask?
It has been reported that the World Health Organisation has discouraged the use of masks, but this isn’t quite accurate. The WHO does if fact advocate the use of masks in specific situations:
- If you are coughing and sneezing.
- If you are taking care of a person who has Covid-19.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control on the other hand say that there is indeed a place for the generalised use of face masks, but with some important caveats:
‘The use of face mask in the community should be considered only as a complementary measure and not as a replacement for established preventive measures, for example social distancing, respiratory etiquette, meticulous hand hygiene and avoiding touching the face, nose, eyes and mouth.’
What are other countries doing?
- France: The use of face masks is recommended, but not mandatory. According to Reuters, ‘The French public will be provided with millions of washable face masks from early May.’
- Germany: Face masks are to be made compulsory on public transport and for shopping.
- Austria: Face masks are already compulsory on public transport and in shops.
- Czech Republic: The use of face masks is mandatory in supermarkets, pharmacies and on public transport.
- Spain: Face masks are advised when it is not possible to practice social distancing.
Which type of mask should I Choose?
N95: An 95 respirator is a medical grade protective device designed to achieve a close facial fit and efficient filtration of 95% of airbourne particles of 300 nanometres or larger. Some masks have a plastic valve (this is not a filter) which makes breathing slightly easier.
KN95: The KN95 is the Chinese equivalent of the N95 and the two masks are very similar. Both are rated to capture 95% of particles, although only K95s are required to pass fit tests. N95 masks have slightly stronger requirements for breathability.
Surgical masks: Probably the most popular mask in use at the moment, these protect the wearer against large droplets, but not against smaller airbourne particles. They are loose fitting and so can allow leakage around the edges. They should be discarded after a maximum of 8 hours wearing time.
Home made masks: You may have seen videos of people making these masks, but they do not offer much protection. According to the European Centre for Disease control and prevention, ‘Common fabric masks are not considered protective against respiratory viruses and their use should not be encouraged.’
It seems that there is a place for the generalised use of face masks and it is likely that their use will become increasingly common. However, they are not a panacea and should only be used in addition to other measures such as frequent hand washing and social distancing.
OMG Welltech can help navigate you through the highs and lows of health and fitness technology.
Orange Monkey Group supply products for the wellbeing of the body and the mind to numerous channels including retail, health and education. We have made it our goal to improve people’s physical, mental and emotional health, an aim which is even more important to us than the previous heights towards which we have strived. For all too many, feeling good and sleeping well have become something of a luxury. Here at OMG however, we are happy to be able to help our customers enjoy that luxury to the full.
We’re proud to be partnered with the Blink Mental health campaign and we will work hard to support the charity in various ways. It’s an exciting time for us as we get to help those who have been affected by issues that, sadly, any one of us could have the misfortune to experience in our ever more complicated lives.
Neeraj Sachdeva – Founder and CEO Orange Monkey Group