What kind of mask is recommended to prevent COVID-19 transmission?

There are various kinds of masks available on the market, all having different properties, shapes and sizes.

It is vital to choose a mask based on what you want- the users, a risk and hazard analysis on the environment and exposure levels you may be faced with.

What Mask is Recommended to Wear?

The UK government and WHO recommends different masks based on the above mentioned factors.

There are mainly three types of masks that can be worn in the coronavirus pandemic.

These include Face Mask, Surgical Mask and Respirators:

Face Mask

Face coverings are recommended by WHO to be worn by the general public under 60 years of age with no comorbides.

They are not a type of personal protective equipment (PPE) as they aim to protect others, not the wearer.

They can be made out of various fabrics - fabric or linen; and come in a variety of colours and prints.

Face masks do not provide an efficient fit to the face as opposed to respirators.

They are still better than not wearing any mask at all, since it covers the nose and mouth, which are the main sources of spreading Covid 19 infection.(2)

Surgical Masks

The WHO recommends Surgical masks to be worn by healthcare staff, people with underlying diseases over the age of 60, people who are having symptoms or have tested positive.

They prevent the respiratory secretions to be transmitted to others when the wearer breathes out.

Thus, it will protect others when worn by patients.

If it is worn by Doctors, it will prevent the spread of infection to patients as well as to the external environment.

Surgical masks are mainly of two types - types I with bacterial filtering efficiency of 95% and type II of 98%.

Type IR and IIR denotes that masks are splash resistant.

These masks are disposable, they should be discarded after every use.

They do not form an efficient seal to the face, thus air can leak out from edges.

They can still block large airborne particles, so these are advised to people who are possibly prone to contracting coronavirus.

The UK government advises wearing face covering in all public places.

Respirators

Filtering Facepiece Respirators (FFP) are recommended in healthcare settings where exposure to corona virus is significantly increased.

Some European countries such as Germany have also issued guidelines to the general public to wear these masks.

They are tight fitting masks with a filtering device.

Respirators can protect the wearer from inhaling small respiratory droplets, dust, aerosolized particles and asbestos.

Thus, they are the most efficient way to protect yourself from coronavirus.

It should also be noted that respirators should be reserved for healthcare providers before making it available to the general public.

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