Wearing a mask is one key to control the community spread of COVID-19. Since the virus spreads through droplets, covering your mouth and nose can protect you and the person next to you.
Masks work by containing droplets that come out of your mouth (or even your nose) whenever you cough, sneeze or even talk. But remember that not all masks offer equal levels of effectiveness. We rounded up different kinds of face masks that you can use to protect yourself from viruses:
Surgical masks are often blue with white borders. It is a loose-fitting, medical-grade, disposable mask that protects against infectious agents transmitted by “droplets.” These droplets can be of saliva or secretions from your nose when you sneeze. These masks are single-use and not advisable to use for more than 3 to 8 hours.
Surgical masks remain to be the standard for effective face masks, which are usually required for healthcare workers according to the World Health Organization.
An N95 mask fits tightly around your face. It covers the whole area of the nose and the mouth, filtering out 95% of the smallest particles in the air. A study shows that N95 masks provide more effective protection than a surgical mask because it can block out both large and small particles. Different countries that require the public to wear face masks suggest that N95 masks should be reserved for health workers and people at high risk.
Some people are already resorting to making their own masks. Although cloth masks tend to be less effective than the medical-grade counterparts, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends this kind of mask for the general public because they offer more protection than not wearing a face mask at all.
A recent study also recommends that a cloth mask should have a minimum of three layers of fabric.
KN95 masks are very similar to N95 masks because both capture about 95% of tiny particles in the air. What’s the difference? N95 masks are the US standards for respirator masks while KN95 masks are the Chinese standards for masks.
This is your everyday version of a face mask. It’s also recommended for public use in the midst of the pandemic. You can use this type of face mask while running short errands, going to the grocery store, or any other open public place.
A recent study found that bandanas worn over the mouth do very little to protect you from the virus. The CDC recommends a coffee filter or similar paper material as an added layer of protection against potentially harmful particles in the air.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the best way to control the spread of the virus is to wash your hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, practice social distancing, use face masks, and disinfect objects regularly.
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