With the advancement of the global COVID-19 pandemic, more and more people can be seen everywhere around the globe wearing face masks. Even in the last six weeks, as countries closed their borders and put their citizens under lockdowns with varying degrees of stringency, masks have become something that you can see on many people's faces. They are no longer just worn by people at airports or medical personnel but are donned by everyone from New York to Singapore, Norway to Australia.
The jury is still out on whether mask wearing is an effective protection against contagion. The World Health Organization has been generally on the opinion that masks should only be worn by medical personnel, the sick and those caring after them. However, recent events have shown that in countries (such as Austria, Czech Republic, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore) where masks wearing has been made mandatory for everyone in outdoor and indoor public places, levels of infection have been much lower and not at all at the alarming rates seen in Italy, Spain, USA, UK etc.
How is COVID-19 spread?
There are four main ways in which the corona virus causing COVID-19 can spread.
- personal contact with an infected person;
- droplets (from sneezing or coughing) from the infected person;
- airborne - when the virus attaches itself to the aerosols in the air;
Masks can be used as PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) against droplets and aerosols. Standard surgical masks protect mainly against droplets and splashes. They are not effective protection against aerosols.
On the other hand, respirator masks, such as the ones offered by us, can be effectively used to protect against airborne particles which attach themselves in the aerosols in the air. Hence they are used in hospitals for aerosol-generating procedures (AGPs) such as intubation. There are 3 levels of protection from FFP1 ('filtering face piece'), to FFP2 and FFP3 with the latter offering the highest level of protection.
The masks recommended for the general public are the N95 (US standard), FFP2 (Europe) and KN95 (in China). Lab tests show that these masks have filtration efficiency (94-95%) necessary to filter out most COVID-19 viruses circulating in the air.
Always follow the instructions on how to put on and take off your face masks and the recommended length of use for maximum efficiency.